Varsity Kansas

Valley Center volleyball remains tough at the end

VALLEY CENTER — As far as Valley Center coach Bryan Otte is concerned, his team is playing a dangerous style of volleyball. Too many times he has watched the Hornets play with a lack of intensity — until the end of the game looms.

“I think we lead a dangerous life right now,” Otte said. “We wait until it’s 20-20 and we decide to turn it on, and that’s going to bite us.”

Yet Valley Center keeps winning.

The Hornets (20-1) have won 11 straight matches, including victories over Cheney (26-24, 25-17) and Bishop Carroll (25-21, 26-24) on Thursday night.

In the triangular’s opening match against Cheney, Valley Center rolled in the second game of the sweep. But in the first game, Cheney led 23-20 after a Valley Center serve-receive error. The Cardinals fell apart, though, committing six unforced errors in the game’s final seven points.

Against Bishop Carroll, Valley Center led 20-14 in the opening game, but gave up five unanswered points, two on stuff blocks by Meghan Dugan. The Hornets rallied, scoring five of the game’s final seven points for the win.

In the final game of the night, Carroll led 23-20 and 24-21, but Valley Center recovered to win.

That result frustrated Bishop Carroll coach Rita Mernagh, whose team is 11-4 after defeating Cheney 25-20, 25-19.

“We can’t finish,” said Mernagh, whose team has lost to Valley Center twice. “We talked about it at the end. We were up. It’s all about finishing.

“... An error here, an error there, against good teams, that’s what is going to catch us.”

Carroll took a 23-20 lead in Game 2 against Valley Center on a kill by Sarah Balderas. A Jana Reichenberger kill put Carroll up 24-21. Balderas finished with five kills, while Reichenberger had seven.

Ashlyn Driskill gave Valley Center a sideout with one of her match-high eight kills, and then she served out the rest of the game. Carroll didn’t help its own cause, committing three straight unforced errors in the match’s final four points.

Valley Center setter Emily Otte ended the match with a quick set over the net.

“I thought Carroll and Cheney did a good job scouting the setter dump and a good job of picking it up,” Bryan Otte said. “The longer the rally, that’s when crazy stuff happens that kind of stuff goes down. We kind of kept with it. We tried to change some of the spots with it. We have to use Emly as an attacker; it’s part of our system.”

Cheney’s top hitter was Merissa Quick, who had 14 kills and three stuff blocks in the two matches.

Valley Center libero Max Williams

The final play from Valley Center's match with Bishop Carroll. Emily Otte sets it over and it drops.

A play late in Valley Center's match with Bishop Carroll

Valley Center junior Ashlyn Driskill

Valley Center volleyball fans