Emily Kwak doesn’t need to call on her veteran setter savvy to know this simple volleyball truth:
When there’s a 6-3 girl on the court, you go to her.
Kwak fed Naperville North middles Megan Wernette and Caitlin Miller early and often Thursday, a size factor Metea Valley could not counter in the Huskies’ 25-10, 25-20 win in Aurora.
“They’re definitely our strongest hitters on the team,” said Kwak, a four-year varsity starter. “When the passing is there we can pretty much run everything with our middles.”
Wernette put down 10 kills and Miller, who like Wernette stands 6-3, added four for Naperville North (3-3). It wasn’t just the volume of their touches, it was also the variety.
Case in point came over a four-point stretch of Game 1. Wernette made a nice adjustment for a tip kill, and on the next point buried a Metea overpass.
Two points later Kwak and Wernette executed well on a slide play, a maneuver they revisited later in the match. Kwak also worked Wernette and Miller on quicks over the middle of Metea’s smaller front row.
“Emily creates opportunities for our offense. She gives our hitters a lot of confidence because she sets a very settable ball,” said Huskies coach Jennifer Urban, adding, “it’s a nice luxury to have two strong middles.”
Kwak, who’s played with Wernette for three years and Miller for two, feels a synergy on the court with her top options.
“If I know it’s a good matchup I’m going to them,” Kwak said. “I pretty much tell (Megan) what to do, but every once in a while if she sees an open shot she’ll jump in and tell me.”
That size and aggressive serving had Metea on the defensive throughout Game 1. Jennifer Dore followed up Wernette’s kill on the slide with back-to-back aces, giving the Huskies a commanding 13-4 lead they didn’t let up on.
North looked well on its way to another one-sided win in Game 2, leading 9-3. Metea clawed back to tie it at 15-15, before Miller dropped in a tip kill over a Mustangs block. Three Metea errors ensued, deflating further comeback aspirations.
“I told the girls you fight until that last point and until that last ball falls,” Metea coach Dave MacDonald said. “They just ran out of steam and gave a few points away.”
Lexi Lobdell led Metea (2-6) with eight kills and two digs, doing much of her damage out of the back row. Colleen Shanahan and Miranda Cada both had five assists. Metea’s tallest player barely scrapes 6-0, and MacDonald conceded they could have countered their opponent’s height better.
“They’re big and we just have to play better defense,” he said. “We knew who they were going to. It’s a matter of us staying in position.”
Kwak had 17 assists, freshman outside Ari Budnik three kills and Emily Bushman 13 digs for North. Urban liked that her girls showed no letup. The Huskies were coming off a 2-3 finish at the Wheaton North Invite to start the season. What sounds like an underwhelming weekend result included a win over a ranked Glenbard West team.
“We established momentum on our side,” Urban said, “and we were able to sustain it.”Tags: Metea Valley, Naperville North, volleyball