KETTERING — Despite a sweep Thursday, Utica head volleyball coach Laurie Londot said that several aspects of her team’s performance “could be better.”
Imagine what would happen if the Redskins actually played well.
Utica had just enough to top Anna in the first set, then put together enough runs later to sweep the Rockets, 26-24, 25-22, 25-16, in their Division III regional semifinal at Kettering Fairmont High School.
“We had a really hard time getting them (Anna) out of system,” coach Londot said. “When they were in system, we rarely stopped them. So that’s something we have to go into practice and work on.”
The Redskins felt their passes weren’t crisp. They felt the sets were shaky. Their ball control was inconsistent. Coach Londot felt her team slipped into reaction mode too often, instead of attacking.
Despite that, Utica’s Brooke Maxwell finished with 28 assists, while the tandem of Alyson Londot and Emily Londot combined for 25 kills. Meanwhile, Anna (15-11) never had a run of more than four points.
“We came into this saying we want to win,” said Elizabeth Pritchard, who registered four kills and a block. “We don’t expect it, like trying to be cocky, but we think we can do this.”
Anna’s Krista Gehret and Kennedey Glover combined for 18 kills. But the Rockets were blocked 12 times, including seven blocks by Emily Londot.
“I still get nervous before these big games,” said Emily Londot, a freshman who plays travel ball and is already getting looks from Division I colleges. “But that’s when my teammates help me relax and help me through it.”
Defensively, Alyson Londot led the Redskins with 14 digs, while Maxwell had seven, Emily Londot had six and Rachel Orr had five.
Utica spotted Anna an 8-3 lead before rattling off a 9-1 run, fueled by a pair of aces by Emily Londot. The Rockets crawled back to keep the first set close, but three kills by Emily Londot along with an ace by Pritchard gave the Redskins the set.
After squeezing out a second set win, Utica again fell behind in Set 3. This time, Anna’s 9-5 lead was erased by a 9-2 Utica run, courtesy of more kills by Emily Londot.
“We didn’t know anything about them, coming in,” Emily Londot said. “We just got a feel for them and adjusted. That’s what brought us back.”
“We haven’t really played from behind all year,” coach Londot said. “We needed to remember the whole concept of attacking versus reacting. Our maturity showed through today. There were times when they could have fallen apart, and they didn’t.”
Carli Conard had two of her game-high four aces on the final two points of the match.
The Redskins will face Miami East on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Fairmont. Miami East defeated Versailles, which defeated Highland at regionals in 2013 and ‘14.
“We’ll be ready,” Pritchard promised. “We want this.”