Lady Redhawks Sweep Away Dreher

Taylor Grant (22) makes the return against Dreher. (Photo/Ross Burton)

BLYTHEWOOD – On Sept. 12, the Lady Redhawk volleyball team made it a clean sweep against the Dreher High School Blue Devils by winning three sets in a row (25-21; 25-9; 25-16) in this best-of-five set match. The win was a welcome change, as the Redhawk team has had mixed fortunes so far this year.

“Hopefully this is the beginning of many victories,” Westwood head coach Amanda Kruysman said. “I’m tired of losing. We are in region play now, so every game is important.”

After the relatively close first set, the games went all Westwood’s way.

Westwood scored the first seven points in the second set, forcing Dreher to call a time out. The coach’s advice during the time out helped, as the Blue Devils were able to score four points to Westwood’s three, bringing the score to 10-4. After a long official’s conference, Dreher was awarded a point for what appeared to be a substitution error. That, along with another error by the Redhawks, allowed Dreher to close the gap to 10-6. Then the Redhawks got serious.

For the rest of the set, great offensive shots by Kelsey Keesee and Journee English overpowered the Blue Devil defense. Then Westwood’s defensive secret weapon took over in the form of libero Madison Oxendine. Oxendine served five service aces in a row by just clearing the net, yet never with a service error. The fifth service ace brought the game to set point, and two side-outs later, the set was Westwood’s, 25-9.

“Madison is just a good solid server,” Kruysman said after Oxendine’s performance.

In the third game, the Blue Devils showed they came to play. They led the set early, 8-7. However, Westwood was not about to let the match go to a fourth or a fifth game, and got down to business. Capitalizing on some Dreher errors, Westwood scored six points to Dreher’s two, with the scoreboard showing the Redhawks ahead 14-9. The Blue Devils clawed their way back to within three points, 15-12.

That would be the high-water mark for the Blue Devils. A kill by English gave Westwood the all-important 20th point for which Dreher had no answer. Another good block and another kill by Grant helped bring the game to match point.

After the game, Kruysman credited the win to the work the team has done to minimize communication errors, both on and off the court.

“The difference tonight was in keeping our spirits high and doing well on communication,” Kruysman said. “It’s easy to have energy and high spirits when your opponent isn’t too strong, but we are in region games now. We are pushing hard to improve on past errors. The girls have improved on their own a lot; making sure they are where the ball is. We are working on lessening our error margin. We have been giving away too many points and our margin has been way too high.”

Despite the relatively easy victory for Westwood, the team has several key players out with injuries. One of the top offensive players, Jamila Minor, is out with an ankle injury but is expected back into playing condition soon. Amanda Stewart is out with an injured foot. The most serious of the injuries is the torn ACL and associated injuries to Ajia Long, who will not return to the hardwood this season. Long has been replaced by Morgan Britt who was brought up from the junior varsity team to help with middle blocking duties.

The Lady Redhawks traveled to Lancaster County to face Buford High School Tuesday, travel to Camden Sept. 19 and will play in the Nation Ford tournament Sept. 21.