Republic, Mo. (OzarksSportsZone.com) -- With a trio of 6-footers, the Kickapoo High School volleyball team used height to their advantage on Tuesday night against Republic.
The Chiefs got off to a quick start and easily won the first set, then fought off Republic in the second set to win 25-19, 25-23.
“We haven’t been happy with the way we’ve been playing and we wanted to change that tonight,” said Kickapoo coach Marci Johnson. “We wanted to come out on top and play even-keel ball and control our side with a lot of energy and earning all of our own points.”
Kickapoo’s front line of sophomore Rachel Rippee, junior Olivia Becker and senior Rae Myers set the tone. Rippee had a great all-around night, finishing with nine kills, 11 digs and a handful of assists.
Myers had three blocks and diverted Republic’s hitters.
“They both just took care of business, didn’t over-play,” Johnson said of Rippee and Myers. “They did what they were supposed to do and were great team players tonight.”
Kickapoo improved to 3-1 with the win, but the Chiefs needed three sets to beat Central and Rolla in their past two games.
Kickapoo got off to a much better start against Republic, controlling the first set from start to finish. Kickapoo led 16-7 at one point.
“We just had a really slow start,” said Tigers coach Piper Wright. “I didn’t feel like we had much energy out there at all. Second set, we just talked about that: bringing more energy; quicker transitions, faster defense, faster offense. I feel like we did that. I don’t know if we utilized our strengths as well as we could have. Once you get down like that, it’s hard to come back from.”
The second set went much better for Republic. The Tigers led 13-10 after a kill from Micah Mansker.
Kickapoo stormed back, taking a 18-15 lead after freshman Allison Long got a block point then a kill.
“We’d like to get (Long) the ball a little more,” Johnson said. “She’s been working hard, she’s consistent and it’s great to have her.”
Tied at 22, sophomore Madison Ruble recorded two kills to win in for the Chiefs.
“They stayed even-keel and didn’t get down when it was close,” Johnson said. “I could see the focus in their eyes. That’s something we talked about coming into the game.”
Unforced errors plagued Republic. The Tigers served multiple balls into the net in the second set.
“That was the very first thing we talked about after the game,” Wright said. “We want to serve aggressively, but… I don’t mind giving up a few points here and there as long as it’s an aggressive serve, obviously our errors out-weighed our aces and aggressiveness and that just can’t happen.”
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