CONRAD - Communication. It's a word South Tama coach Michelle Bradley has emphasized to her squad all season - and a critical component in the team's level of success.
All lines of contact were open for the Trojans (12-12, 4-2) Tuesday in a 25-13, 25-16, 25-22 sweep over BCLUW (6-16, 3-3) in NICL West action.
"I could say that word until the end of season. When these girls communicate, they're able to come out and play like this. I'm extremely pleased with how we played tonight," said Bradley.
T-R PHOTO BY TYLER STRAND
South Tama’s Madison Baack (2) set ups Jade Rohach (5) for a kill Tuesday. Baack recorded 25 assists, while Rohach finished with 11 kills in the Trojans’ road sweep over BCLUW.
"When they're not communicating, their game tends to drop. I've been talking with them about it for a while and it's been our main focus for the last week and a half."
Winning the first seven points, South Tama raced to a 14-1 advantage and never saw its lead dip below seven in a dominant opening game. The two teams traded points to start the second with the score knotted at six early. Coming up with the big play all night, Jade Rohach recorded one of her game-high 11 kills to give the Trojans a 16-9 lead. The senior also tallied 11 digs and two blocks.
"Jade is our go-to gal. When the other team has a big run, we look her way and she always steps up," said Bradley.
The Comets pulled within 16-12 but couldn't draw any closer as South Tama pulled away for a commanding two-game cushion.
South Tama jumped to a 4-0 lead in the third game before BCLUW won eight of the next nine points to seize an 8-5 advantage. Once again, Rohach delivered for the Trojans with another kill to help the visitors reclaim a 9-8 edge. The Comets kept close contact with South Tama the rest of the way and mounted a late surge to pull within 24-22 before the Trojans closed it out.
"We started passing better toward the end, but in the beginning it was pretty poor. As our passing improved, so did our aggressiveness," said BCLUW coach Kristen Garber.
The Comets, who had only hosted two matches in the last month coming into Tuesday, finish the regular season with two more matches and an invitational on their home floor.
"It's pretty important for us playing at home and it's especially big with regionals being here this year. Hopefully we can build some momentum with these last few home matches," said Garber.
Rohach received plenty of support from her teammates up front as Paige Van Dyk added six kills and Trisha Walz had five, while Samantha Holtz and Emily Martin each tallied four. Walz came up with 16 digs, while Madison Baack had seven digs and 25 assists. Martin served up four aces, while Walz and Tori Appelgate tallied three and two respectively.
Bradley called Baack's performance her best of the season and a critical component in the win. The junior setter has taken over for Shelby Bradley, who has been sidelined with an ankle injury since September 22 and is still questionable for their upcoming matches.
"Madison played her best match so far and really helped us tonight. It was very tough to lose Shelby, but this group is really tight and found a way to come together. Madison has really stepped into her role and excelled," said Bradley.
South Tama will need that kind of effort - as well as a high level of communication - when they battle Class 1A No. 1 ranked Grundy Center on the road next Tuesday.
Olivia Callaway and Jessica deNeui led the Comets with four kills each, while Reeba Box added 16 digs and Nicolette Simpson distributed 10 assists. Box also had three kills, while chipped in seven digs and Nicole Montgomery had two blocks.
BCLUW faces Aplington-Parkersburg at home Thursday before hosting the Comet Invite Saturday.