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Advance volleyball team rolls to pair of 25-18 victories against Leopold
ADVANCE, Mo. -- The Advance volleyball team switched roles with Leopold on Thursday night, and the result switched as well.
"Volleyball's an offensive game," Advance coach Dana Below said. "You really have to be offensive, and whoever's got the offense puts the other team on defense all the time.
"Our girls were clean offensively. They were aggressive, and I think that's what made all the difference. We didn't have that the last time we played Leopold. We were on defense the whole time."
Advance's role as the aggressor led it to a 25-18, 25-18 sweep of Leopold.
It was the third meeting of the teams, which also share a district assignment, this season. Advance beat Leopold in pool play at the Woodland tournament but got swept by the Wildcats in the title match.
"I knew that they were going to be out to get us just because districts are coming up and they knew that we were going to be out to get them," Advance senior Aimie Simmers said. "And it was on our home court, so they definitely wanted to beat us on our home court."
While the Hornets' offense hummed most of the night, Leopold coach Sandy Davis spent much of the night on the sideline imploring her team to be more aggressive on offense after repeated tips and free balls.
"They got outplayed," Davis said about her team. "Advance played. We made mistakes that we don't make. We came off a huge win against Bernie and, you know, I think we've got to learn from it."
Leopold made 22 errors -- 11 in each game -- Thursday night. Four of the first eight points scored by Advance came by way of Leopold errors, including two hitting errors, a missed serve and botched quick-set attempt.
"I think it's just the pressure of these two teams playing," Davis said. "We've already met twice. They beat us. We beat them. And then when we're aggressive, we do very well. And when you're not aggressive against a team like Advance, they're just going to take advantage of it."
Advance forced plenty of Leopold's errors throughout the match. Below said the Hornets learned where their weak spots were in their loss to Leopold, but she was mum about the changes they made to fix them.
"I ain't going to say it," Below said. "I ain't going to say it, but we're learning places that we need improvement on. We're trying to work on them to make them better, so we don't have weak spots. We're trying lots of different things that we noticed from the Woodland tournament that we needed to improve on, and we've been making those changes and it's working for us."
The Hornets also made changes during the match. Leopold jumped out to a 9-1 lead in Game 2 thanks in large part to the serving of sophomore libero Leah Landewee.
Landewee served three aces and another unreturned serve to help the Wildcats build a big cushion.
"We get in a funk sometimes," Below said. "My girls are bad about getting in a four-to-six-point slump, and that's something we need to work on badly."
Below said she made some changes she doesn't usually make to help her team get back in the game.
Advance reeled off four consecutive points to pull to within 9-5, then got more help from Leopold a little later when the Wildcats committed five errors in a span of six points.
Davis called a timeout after Leopold's lead was cut to 13-11, but it was Advance senior Liza Gray who took over the game.
Gray served eight consecutive points, including three aces and an unreturned serve, to help her team take control of the game and force Leopold to take its final timeout.
"Coach told me to serve more aggressive, so that's what I did," Gray said. "At first I was just trying to get it over and in, and then whenever we started getting back up I started hitting it harder and putting more of a down on it, making it curve down."
Gray also tied for a match-high eight kills. She often took advantage of Leopold's block and defense by hitting down the line on her outside approaches.
"Sort of whenever you get up there and you start to look -- if you look real quick before you hit you can see where they're at, and I noticed they were going in more," Gray said. "A lot of times the team members will be like, ‘Go ahead and go line.'"
Haley Kennison also finished with eight kills for Advance (12-2.) Allie Below had 10 assists and three blocks, while libero Jacqueline Maddox had six digs.
Leopold (10-3-1) was led by Caitlin Petty and Denai Arnzen with five kills each. Petty also had seven assists, five digs and four blocks, while Sydney Eeftink added eight assists.