ERIE — Even though the Holy Family volleyball team had earned six wins in eight matches leading up to their Tri-Valley League battle at Erie on Tuesday night, coach Krista Solomon was positive her team should be hitting the ball a little better with the talent they have across the net.
Safe to say Rachel Siurek, Julia Giltner and the rest of the Tigers are ready to take a more authoritative approach at the net the rest of the year. They certainly showed it against their Erie counterparts — one of the hottest teams in Class 4A coming in — with a 3-0 sweep that indicated Holy Family is ready to pursue the TVL title.
On the strength of 43 kills in the three sets — better than 14 per — Holy Family claimed a 25-20, 25-17, 25-19 sweep to get to 2-1 in the league. Erie, still 8-2 on the season and winners of a tournament at Mesa Ridge this past weekend, dropped to 1-2 in the TVL.
"We've been really looking at our numbers hitting-wise and we really feel like we've been under-performing in that area," said Solomon, whose team has lost to 6-2 Berthoud and undefeated St. Teresa's Academy (Kansas City, Mo.). "We've done a lot of offensive work, using our middles and making sure we're using Rachel well, and our outsides. Our goal was to perform much better in terms of hitting, and we were great in that."
Holy Family has had Erie's number the past two years with a 4-0 record and 12-2 mark in sets played, and those numbers only tilted more in the favor of the purple-clad Tigers.
Solomon's team threw a bit of everything at Erie, using the quick set with effectiveness as well as going pin-to-pin behind setter Sara Berghoff's 27 assists. Siurek, a transfer from Kansas, led the team with 11 kills and Giltner (nine), Ali Travis (nine) and Jody Gallagher (seven) were all efficient in their placement.
Siurek also mixed things up when playing in the setter role, not only taking advantage of the second-hit attack but getting big swings in on those opportunities.
"I can attribute it all to our setter Sara. We've been working really hard to get that setter and hitter connection right, and it's not just the hit but everything that goes with it," said Siurek, a left-handed hitter who has fit right in to the Holy Family system. "We just had to relax and know we needed to play our game and not theirs."
"When you have that left hand at the net right there, and you get a good pass ... that's an intimidating hit if you're on the other side," Solomon said of Siurek. "She knows when there's a good time to hit. But we had balance, which is what we've been missing."
Sam Weber also tallied 33 digs, and both Solomon and Erie head coach Russell Fox said she played a key role in the outcome.
Erie, whose only other loss is also to Berthoud, had leads midway through each of the first two sets; in Set 2, Holy Family went on an eight-point run that turned a 13-11 EHS lead to 19-13 HFHS lead; and in Set 3, Erie never fully recovered from a 5-0 deficit.
Darby Berringer had eight kills to lead EHS, while Mya Michaelson tallied five kills.
"We just were flat today and we didn't give their defense tough hits to have to handle, and that leads to tough balls coming back at us. Just a vicious cycle that we were on the wrong side of," Fox said. "They got (Siurek) going and she is a monster.
"They were the better team and their libero (Weber) was great. We could not get any pressure on them."
Holy Family 3, Erie 0
At Erie HSHoly Family (7-2, 2-1) 25 25 25
Erie (8-2, 1-2) 20 17 19
Kills — Holy Family: Rachel Siurek 11, Ali Travis 9, Julia Giltner 9, Jody Gallagher 7; Erie: Darby Berringer 8, Mya Michaelson 5.
Blocks — Holy Family: Giltner 7, Gallagher 6; Erie: Michaelson 2, Megan Weigand 2.
Assists — Holy Family: Sara Berghoff 27; Erie: Jessi Amend 19.
Aces — Holy Family: Travis 3; Erie: Several with one each.
Digs — Holy Family: Sam Weber 33; Erie: Rhi Mount 20.