Jennies volleyball team searching for go-to player

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Story by Jason Strickland (Sports Editor)

Sophomore Aubri Renshaw is second on the team in kills in her first season on the Jennies. (Photo by ANDREW MATHER, Photo Editor)

Even though the No. 8 Jennies volleyball team (8-3, 2-0) has three wins against ranked teams and have started the MIAA schedule with two straight-set wins, they haven’t found that go-to player.
“In previous years, there was always a chance to just take the ball and shoot it outside to Allie Huffman, for example, and something pretty good was going to happen,” coach Flip Piontek said.
“There is a little bit more pressure on Julia [Bates] now in terms of identifying who should be set, and in what situation, and delivering that set. But the players as a whole are doing a very good job of taking advantage of situations that she is creating for them.”
Eight players have recorded kills this season, which means eight different ways Bates has had to set the ball.
“Just like in any sport, individual players have certain preferences that they like,” Piontek said. “They want the ball a little lower, or a little higher, or a little faster, or a little slower. [Bates] is still feeling her way in those, and also the players are feeling their way.
“As the team gets more comfortable in those ways, I think the team will get better.”
The Jens are trying to replace three of the kill leaders from last season in Huffman, Paula Harris and Kelsey Ortwerth.
Seniors Lisa Moore and Hillary McCormick have stepped into more of a role in the offensive attack than last season. Newcomers Carly Soika and Aubri Renshaw have become two of the kill leaders in their first season at Central.
Bates said she is getting used to playing with all of the new players.
“I think as things have gone along we have been getting a lot better and more accustomed to each other,” Bates said. “I think we are starting to gel pretty well.”
As for preparing to play at Missouri Western (7-4, 1-2) Friday and Truman (8-3, 2-1) at home Saturday, Piontek said there are a couple of areas the team needs to improve in to win those matches.
“That offensive balance is one of the things we will need to do this weekend because the two teams we are playing have good records, and they are playing really well, so they know how to win too,” Piontek said.
“When we let teams get back into the match like Lindenwood on Saturday, it was more of our defensive lapses that hurt us in terms of that match…Our ability to adjust in the middle of the match was not good.”
Both matches this weekend start at 7 p.m.