St. Vincent: Defense will decide its fate in Class 2

Friday, November 2, 2007

St. Vincent libero Sara Moll loves the feeling of diving to the ground to dig a volleyball that has just been smashed in her direction.

"Oh gosh, it's an awesome feeling whenever a girl hits it as hard as she can and she expects it to go down and you pop it back up," Moll said. "You watch your shoulders and hope she hits it at you."

And she said going after a blazing hit isn't as dangerous as it appears at times.

"It hits you on your forearm most of the time, so it really shouldn't hurt, but sometimes it might sting a little bit," she said.

Strong defense is one major reason St. Vincent (29-5-2) will play in the state volleyball tournament at the UCM Multipurpose Building in Warrensburg today and Saturday.

The Indians, who love to defend, will be vying for their first volleyball state title since 1987.

The defense came up strong, especially last weekend in the sectional and state quarterfinal rounds of the Class 2 playoffs, when the Indians swept Scott City and Crystal City.

Moll provided strong play in the back row, leading her team with 19 digs over the two games. Brooke Brown chipped in an additional 11 digs against Crystal City.

St. Vincent practices have focused largely on defensive drills, especially over the past few weeks.

"We just do a lot of defensive drills where we'll hit at them, and the angle diggers got to make sure they're staying on their line and the middle blockers have to stay on their toes to make sure they're covering tips," first-year Indians coach Mindy House said. "Moll, she's a fabulous libero. She gets to about every ball. You never see a ball hit the floor. If not, her body is on the floor diving after it."

Moll said the position of defensive specialist suites her well because she is small and can pass well.

And as House and many of the players emphasize -- a strong defense leads to a strong offense, which is set up with the pass.

"Like with our libero, any time you're playing good defense you can get the ball to the setter, and as soon as we get the ball to the setter, then we can roll," House said. "But it's getting that perfect pass to the setter. You need to play defense first."

Junior Courtney Besand added about defending: "We need to keep our intensity up. That's what really helped us. When our defense is really on we get a lot better pass, which helps us get a good hit."

The other key to the defense last weekend was the team's blocking. Junior Sarah DeWilde had 28 blocks against Scott City and Crystal City.

"The defense just kept on going for every ball and they didn't give up on anything -- and blocking, we got our hands on everything we could," Brown, a senior, said. "If we keep that up, the libero will be able to get to anything we don't block."

The Indians will compete against Pierce City, Hermann and Stockton. House said she does not have film on the finalists and knows little about them.

"I guess that's the most nerve-racking thing," House said. "We knew we were going to see Crystal City in sectionals, but we already played them in the season. We had game film. We knew what to expect.

"We don't know anything about these teams. We do have a couple of numbers we're going to work on, getting some stats, but you've just got to play your game I guess."

That game of late has been defense, and it will again need to be strong today.

"We are going to have to be really big because I'm sure they're going to have some tall girls who can hit," Moll said. "We have to block and close out our blocks and everything. And we just need to get up and hit and not be scared to swing."

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