The Lady Indians scored preseason wins over the team they were most familiar with.
Pacific volleyball tuned up for the regular season Monday at Four Rivers Conference rival Union’s jamboree, besting the host team, 25-18, 28-26.
In the team’s other sets, Pacific was swept by Francis Howell Central, 28-27, 25-17, and by Seckman, 25-21, 26-24. Howell Central also swept Union, 25-21, 25-15, and Seckman, 25-23, 25-20. Seckman won in two sets against the Lady ’Cats, 25-17, 25-23.
Each game at the preseason event started with a 10-10 tie on the scoreboard with regular scoring rules in effect save the addition of a 28-point cap.
“Our defense performed well last night,” Head Coach Kersten McDonough said. “They keep us in games and help our setters from getting tired out. They communicate well and feed off of one another. Jaisie Kulick, Haley Lucas, and Genna Nickelson really played well as a unit. They do the dirty work for our team.”
Nickelson is the team’s senior libero, entering her third season as the leader of the team’s defense. She was a second-team Missourian All-Area pick last season at the position.
The team is preparing new starting setters in the hopes of keeping senior Grace Smiley at outside hitter. Needs necessitated the offense run through Smiley at the setter position a year ago, where she was a second-team All-Area pick.
Smiley knocked down five kills in the team’s first set victory over Union. That game ended on an ace served by Kulick.
“One thing that was lacking was our offense,” McDonough said. “We have big offensive weapons and it seemed like we couldn’t use them last night. We struggled in the area of setting, but we were ready for that, especially with the two new setters we are using. Alexis Haley (sophomore) got better as the night went on. We’re really excited to keep working with her and see how far she can go this year. Once everyone is comfortable with the setters and the timing, I believe we will be a tough team to play against.”
In the second set with Union, Pacific’s senior outside hitters Kate Taylor and Piper Linder each had four kills with Smiley adding one kill. Linder finished that game off with an ace.
“Our standout performers were senior Genna Nickelson and freshman Annie Tomlinson,” McDonough said. “Genna had a great debut for her senior season. She took charge of our defense and gave it her all every game we played. Her serve receive keeps us in the game and gives our offense a chance to run in system.”
Tomlinson is a new force on the inside for the Lady Indians at middle blocker.
“This was Annie’s first game as a high schooler and varsity player,” McDonough said. “She gives us a great block out of the middle and mixes her shots up, which keeps the other team on their toes. We are very excited to have (her) on our team this year.”
The Lady Indians open the regular season Wednesday, playing on the road at Fox with a 5:30 p.m. start time.