Block kills help Shawano dismantle New London

Hawks open conference play with sweep
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By Morgan Rode sports@newmedia-wi.com


Leader photo by Morgan Rode Julia Klement (12) and Rachel Reed (3) attempt to block a spike during a match against New London on Thursday.

The start of conference play can be a nerve-racking time for teams. Your opponent typically knows your strengths and weaknesses and always gives you their best shot.

The Shawano volleyball team welcomed New London to open Bay Conference play on Thursday at Shawano Community High School. The Hawks tall front line made a statement early, racking up several block kills to give the team momentum it would never relinquish.

Shawano went on for a convincing 25-18, 25-11, 25-14 sweep of New London to improve to 11-3 overall and start conference play 1-0.

Junior Abi Vomastic led the Hawks with seven block kills while senior Tori DePerry had six. Senior Julia Klement recorded four block kills while sophomores Rachel Reed and Avery Dreier had three and two, respectively.

“When you see girls that tall when you’re going up to hit, you obviously get intimidated because their hands are up and you don’t know how to get around them,” Vomastic said of how the Hawks’ front line can shut down other team’s attack game. “It definitely helps the team to have a tall front row that can go block everything.”

“We are good up front, we have a lot of tall people and blocking is a specialty of this team,” DePerry said. “I think that set a tone (tonight), we got hyped from it.”

After the teams split the first eight points, Shawano’s blocking game helped the team go on a 6-0 run to take charge of the first set. After the Bulldogs won a couple of points, Shawano quickly responded with another run to push its lead to 10.

After New London trimmed its deficit down to five, Shawano secured the set win by taking the final two points.

“I think what’s working well right now is our chemistry and how we work together,” Klement said. “We have some young girls on the team so it would be nice to keep getting more playing time with them to figure out how they play and what they do well.”

Sporting a big bench, Shawano coach Breanna Young was able to work several players into the rotation in the victory.

“It really didn’t matter who I put in there tonight, everyone played so well together,” Young said. “We had a big bench tonight, 16 people right now, and they all came together as a team.”

The Hawks continued to aggressively defend the net in the second set and was able to work itself out to a comfortable lead. With Shawano playing relaxed, it flexed its muscles when given the opportunity to attack offensively.

DePerry racked up a handful of powerful attack kills to help the Hawks close out the set while Reed earned the service points.

DePerry finished with a team-leading six attack kills while Vomastic and Klement each had five. Junior Katelyn Wilber posted four attack kills while Reed contributed two.

Shawano kept its foot on the gas to open the final set, jumping out to a 11-3 advantage. New London closed to within six points, but could get no closer. Young emptied the bench and watched some of the team’s younger players cap the impressive win.

Vomastic led the Hawks with nine digs while freshman libero Margo Gull had eight and senior Bayleigh Laabs totaled six. Laabs was credited with 13 assists on the night while sophomore Abi Tuma tallied 12. Reed served a team-high three aces.

While the team was pleased with its effort and sweep of New London, the team knows it can get even better.

“Our communication, we always have a rough time with that,” Vomastic said of what the team needed to work on. “We have a rough time getting in the groove of talking, sometimes we’ll run into each other because we didn’t call it or we both called it.”

If the Hawks can improve their communication, they are hoping their convincing win to start conference play was just the beginning of what could be a special season.

“I think this kind of win pumps us up and will make us look forward to the next games knowing how well we can play under the pressure of the first (conference) game,” Julia Klement said. “This will pump up our energy, get us ready, help us practice harder and do well the next game.”

“It sets the tone of how the year is going to be,” DePerry said. “We have to watch film, see our mistakes and learn from them. Then we need to go into the next matches with more intensity, more communication and go from there to get more wins.”