Girls Varsity Volleyball · Stars silence Mounties to start Sagamore play

DOVER – Coming into Saturday afternoon’s Sagamore Conference match against Southmont, the Western Boone volleyball team was well aware of the hype surrounding the Mounties.

The visitors came in 9-0 with a top-5 ranking in Class 2A and had dropped just five sets all season long.

But the young Stars weren’t fazed, and defended their home court in a 3-1 (25-17, 17-25, 26-24, 25-17), improving their record to 5-5 on the year.

“I was very proud of my girls,” Western Boone head coach Laura Lawson said. “We have a very hard schedule in August, and that prepares us for matches like this. We know how to handle the pressure, and I think that really showed at the end of this match, and we were able to pull it together.”

Lawson stressed through the early part of the season that there was a lot of talent on this Stars team, but there would be some growing pains early.

The Stars have four freshmen and two sophomores in their regular rotation, and many of the upperclassmen are being thrown into bigger roles than they have been in the past.

But on Saturday, the Stars showed maturity and the ability to battle threw adversity in several points during the match.

After allowing 10-straight points to lose control of the second set, the Stars cut a nine-point deficit to four on two occasions before ultimately losing the set.

In the third, Western Boone had a 16-9 lead, only to see Southmont come back and tie the set at 20. The Stars rebuilt the lead to 23-20, but the Mounties scored four-straight to have set point before a 3-0 spurt by the Stars ended the set on a kill by Marli Ransom.

“More than half our team is underclassmen, so we are going to win or lose with our youth,” Lawson said. “They did a great job of being mentally tough, especially our young hitters. Kendal Ramey and Kennedy Kiger were really smart with where they put the ball.”

Ramey had 10 kills in the match, while Kiger had eight. Fellow freshman Elena Gubera had 12 assists and nine digs.

The Stars have two sophomores in Maddie Hawkins (23 digs) and Marli Ransom (14 digs), that have been starters since the beginning of last year, but are still reaching their potential.

Lawson said big wins like this will just boost the team’s confidence moving forward.

“It took them a couple weeks to get used to the speed, but the skies the limit for them,” Lawson said. “We are throwing them into varsity right away, and not a lot of programs have that. I think you are going to continue to see a lot of improvement.”

It wasn’t just the Stars’ young players that stood out.

Senior Tori Wilkinson had a team-best 13 kills and added seven digs.

Senior Maddie Holubik had 12 digs, and senior Holly Thompson had 23 assists and eight digs.

The Stars use as many as three setters in matches, but Thompson was in for the key moments in the third and fourth sets, recording 16 assists in the final two sets.

“She did a great job and does a great job of leading the offense, especially with so many young hitters,” Lawson said. “She does a great job of telling them where to hit and when to hit. Her leading the offense makes a big difference.”

The schedule slows a little bit for the Stars, as they are off until Thursday against Guerin Catholic and then don’t play again until the following Tuesday against a top 4A side in McCutcheon.

Lawson said the Stars know there is still a lot of season left and they have to keep on improving.

“We have been really focused on our stats, and how every position has things they are doing well, and things to improve on,” Lawson said. “That focus after every single match is making a big difference.”

Will Willems is the Sports Editor of the Lebanon Reporter and Zionsville Times Sentinel. Follow him on Twitter @Will_Willems.