MOUNT BLANCHARD— It is too soon to bet the farm on Wynford volleyball defending its 2011 Northern Central Conference Black Division title. But after Thursday’s match with Riverdale, wagering a few acres on it certainly would not be one’s worst investment.
The Royals reigned in the league opener, using 16 stifling aces and stature to sweep the Falcons, 25-11, 25-15, 25-14, on the road.
But it was not just a sizable height advantage that won the match for the Royals (3-0, 1-0 NCC). It was every bit as much about the use of their heads. From four-year letterwinner and premium outside hitter Paige Brady, who had a game-high 15 kills, on down the line, Wynford made the right decision on offense time and time again.
“(Brady’s) developed so intelligently as a volleyball player. She’s put a lot of time in and has really learned a lot of different shots,” said coach Tim Baumberger, who has two 6-footers, Alyssa Harrer and Brenna Quinn, on the roster for the first time since he has been at Wynford. “This year, we have some young kids in there. We start a freshman (Harrer) in the middle. They’ve learned to feed off (Brady).
“Our kids place the ball really well … That is something we stress in practice. It doesn’t always have to be pretty; it has to be a smart play. A tip on the floor scores just like a hit on the floor.”
The offense came from several sources. After Brady, Quinn had 12 kills, Madison Krebs had six, Meghan Harrer had five, Shannon Miller had four and Alyssa Harrer added three.
As expected, the 6-footers pestered the Falcons’ attacking game incessantly. Alyssa Harrer had a game-high eight blocks and Quinn chipped in four as the two forced Riverdale (1-2, 0-1 NCC) to route their hits around the block.
“We didn’t match up well at all,” Riverdale coach Jenny Young said. “We made a couple changes, switched a middle out just to get some size going to the outside, and hopefully we’ll be able to match up a little better next time around.”
The Falcons’ serve-receive game was equally crippling. Anytime Riverdale began to take hold of the momentum, it let it swing back over to the Royals by yielding an ace.
“Saturday we had two games (against Kenton and Pandora-Giboa) and that was the big concern that we talked about,” Young said. “We can’t do anything with the ball unless we get the serve-receive up. So that has been are focus this week in practice and will continue to be.”
Krebs and Alyssa Harrer had four aces apiece, Shannon Miller had three and Brady had two for the Royals in the rout.
Perhaps the best player on the floor, though, was Riverdale’s Caitlin Pauley. The middle hitter and defensive specialist was a Jill of all trades Thursday, posting three aces, four digs, six kills, three blocks and two assists.
Though she cannot be any taller than 5-foot 6-inches, Pauley displayed more hops than a lager and had no problem hitting against Wynford’s front line. The senior was perfect on 15 attacks.
“She can set for us, she plays defense, she can do it all for us,” Young said. “We like the ball to be in her hands.”
Jordan York had four kills and Sierra Vaughan dug seven balls for the Falcons, while Brittany Wetherill contributed seven digs and an ace and Ashlynn Walter had four digs and two blocks.
The Royals hit the ground running in the opening set and took a 5-1 lead on the strength of kills from Brady (two), Quinn and Meghan Harrer.
A pair of aces from Pauley allowed Riverdale to get back within a point, 7-6, before Wynford outscored the Falcons 18-5 the rest of the way. The Royals tallied 14 kills — seven from Brady — in the frame.
Riverdale strung together a 5-2 lead to open the second set and remained close until it was tied at seven.
Then, Alyssa Harrer stepped behind the line to serve.
The freshman went on to ace Riverdale three times in seven attempts to propel Wynford to a 13-8 lead and the Falcons never recovered.
“That was big and I think that’s something we’ve seen in all three of our matches so far,” Baumberger said. “We have had someone in service rotation go back and really set us in motion.
“They were getting some confidence, and then Alyssa goes back there and gets three aces in (seven) serves. All of a sudden we’re in control, and they’re hanging their heads again.”
The Falcons were within two, 14-12, halfway through the final set, but threw in the towel shortly after when Wynford finished on an 11-2 run. Krebs closed out the match with her third ace in four attempts.
Quinn said afterward she thinks her team is the one to beat in the Black Division and that Thursday’s match was a great start to league play.
The Royals took down the Falcons, 25-11, 25-24, in junior varsity action.
Wynford hosts Shelby at 10 a.m. Saturday. Riverdale will also play at 10 a.m. Saturday at its home venue, versus River Valley.
By NICK MARLOW
Wynford 3, Riverdale 0
Wynford (3-0, 1-0 NCC): M. Harrer, 5 kills, 2 aces, 10-11 serving, 1 block; Brady, 15 kills; 2 aces, 9-10 serving, 2 assists, 5 digs; Miller, 14-14 serving, 3 aces, 4 kills, 32 assists, 53-53 setting; Quinn, 12 kills, 4 blocks; Krebs, 4 aces, 11-11 serving, 6 kills, 4 assists, 7-7 setting, 10-12 hitting; A. Harrer, 4 aces, 8 blocks, 2 kills, 1 assist, 2 digs; Gottfried, 1 kill, 1 block; Lilly, 10-11 serving, 1 ace, 1 assist, 1-1 setting, 6 digs.
Riverdale (1-2, 0-1 NCC): Pauley, 3 aces, 7-10 serving, 4 digs, 15-15 hitting, 6 kills, 3 blocks, 14-14 setting, 2 assists; Wetherill, 9-10 serving, 2 aces, 7 digs, 12-12 hitting, 1 block, 1 kill; Vaughan, 7 digs; Pickett, 5-5 serving, 2 blocks; York, 5-5 serving, 5 digs, 7-9 hitting, 4 kills, 1 block; Renteria, 37-39 setting, 2 assists, 6-6 serving, 1 ace; Walter, 2-5 serving, 4 digs, 2 blocks.