The fifth-ranked and Big Rivers Conference leading River Falls volleyball team used last Thursday’s match at last place Menomonie to implement some new offensive combinations. And it worked.
The Wildcats made easy work of the Mustangs by scores of 25-15, 25-20, 25-18 to improve to 20-1 overall and 6-0 in BRC play heading into this Thursday’s de facto conference title match against Chippewa Falls. The Cardinals bring a conference record of 5-0 into the match.
River Falls will jump right back into action Saturday at the St. Michael-Albertville Tournament, which will feature some of the top teams in Minnesota. So head coach Sara Kealy used last week’s lone match at Menomonie to fine tune some things.
“We are looking at some different offensive combinations and adjustments to our serve receive,” she said. “Things that we know we will need down the stretch.”
Kealy said she’s been impressed with the composure seniors Kinsley Albores and Olivia Redmond have shown this season off the bench. For the year, Albores has contributed 32 digs and passed at a 1.83 clip, while Redmond has dished out 57 assists when running the offense.
“It has been fun as a coach to watch them increase their level of play, as well as their understanding of the game,” Kealy said.
The other three first-year varsity players the Cats have counted on are Becca Randleman, Hannah Jarocki and Maddy Range.
“They too have continued to impress with their development throughout the season,” Kealy said. “All three have increased their ability to terminate the ball offensively and have better blocking presence at the net. These things will be valuable to us down the stretch as we pursue our goal of winning another conference championship and competing for a state title. We have to challenge each other everyday in practice and being able to compete against each other in our own gym is key to that.”
Kealy said this week and weekend will help set the tone for the high expectations the Wildcats have for the postseason.
“For the past two weeks we have had only one match a week, which is really slow for our schedule,” she said. “Now we are heading into a conference championship match with Chi-Hi on Thursday followed by the STMA tourney. This level of competition is just what we need as we head into the playoffs.”
Thursday’s match against Chippewa Falls is set for 7 p.m. at the high school gym.