Lady ‘Hawks Struggle on the Hardcourt

Westwood’s Kelsey Keese and Jordan Jones charge the net against Cardinal Newman last week.

BLYTHEWOOD – The Westwood volleyball team, although playing much improved ball, are still looking for their first win of the season. While the team controls the ball better, returns fewer free balls and gives away fewer points on communication errors, had some difficulty in a home tri-meet against Lugoff-Elgin High School and Cardinal Newman High School on Sept. 3. Both best-of-three contests went to the opponents, with Westwood winning the middle game of each match. The final scores were 15-25; 25-18; 17-25 against L-E and 24-26; 25-22; 16-25 against Cardinal Newman.

Before the match, L-E head coach Jessica Mullins correctly predicted a hard fight.

“I expect a close match,” Mullins said. “Westwood has height, and we don’t have much of that. We do have a good defense, so we expect the game to be hitters versus defense. The matches should be a good little battle.”

Westwood head coach Amanda Kruysman also expected some stiff competition.

“I’m not real sure how these games will come out,” Kruysman said. “Lugoff-Elgin will be stronger offensively. They appear to hit harder since last time we played them. We won then. Cardinal Newman is a really strong team, very consistent. I think Cardinal Newman usually has height, but their tallest girl is injured. They have incredible hitters. They are smart and know where to put the ball.”

About some of the newer players, Kruysman had this to say: “Victoria Houghton has stepped up recently. Her defensive skills have gotten to be incredible. She will get a lot more playing time tonight than normal. Madison Oxendine, our libero, is an excellent defensive player. I expect some big plays and some leadership from Jamila Minor.”

Lugoff-Elgin handled the Cardinals well, dominating the first match, and became the Redhawks’ first opponent of the night.

In the first of three sets against Lugoff-Elgin, play began with very even scoring through the first seven or eight points. After several unanswered L-E points, Kruysman called time out. Following the time out, the scoring flurry by L-E would continue. Another time out was called with the score 20-10, L-E but the momentum was against the Redhawks and the game was decided 25-15, L-E.

The second game followed the early pattern of the last game but the mid-game shift went Westwood’s way. At 19-12, Westwood, Mullins called time to talk to her players. Westwood continued to pull away, winning 25-18.

In the final game, L-E jumped out to a four-point lead, which they held onto for most of the set until L-E was able to increase the lead to five points, 21-15. They closed out the game to win the match by a score of 25-17.

Offensively, Journee English and Jamila Minor had eight kills each. Defensively, Minor had the most receptions at 15, with only one receiving error. Taylor Grant had the most blocks at two.

Much like the Lugoff-Elgin game, the scoring was even through the first 10 or so points of the Cardinal Newman contest. Excellent serving by Redhawk players kept them in the game. No fewer than five Redhawk players had error-free serving. The score remained mostly even through the 17th point. A few out of bounds hits by Westwood allowed the Cardinals to edge ahead to 21-17. The Redhawks clawed their way back to within one, 23-24, when Cardinal Newman served out of bounds, tying the score at 24-24. The Cardinals would score the next two points to win, 26-24. The match ended with a winning third set for Cardinal Newman 25-16.

Kelsey Keesee was the leading offensive player against the Cards. Keesee attempted 10 kills and had no kill errors for a perfect kill percentage. English was next best with 17 kill attempts, nine of which scored for a kill ratio of 59 percent. Defensively, it was Jordan Jones with two solo blocks and two assisted blocks.

The Lady Redhawks travelled to Lexington High School on Sept. 4 for their next match, where the Lady Wildcats dominated the best-of-five contest 25-14, 25-22, 25-18. Westwood will look for their first win of the season at Chapin High School on Tuesday, Sept. 10.