90° F Wednesday, July 26, 2017

By Kyle Gregory

Westlake volleyball dashed Bowie’s playoff hopes and finished its sweep of District 15-5A in a 25-10, 25-17, 25-13 victory over the Bulldogs Oct. 23.
With the playoffs looming, the solid performance came at just the right time for the Chaps (23-19, 12-0) as the team looked to sharpen up after last week’s unspectacular outing against Del Valle.
“I’m a lot happier today than I was last week,” Westlake coach Al Bennett said. “I attribute today’s energy to that game. The girls were not happy with the way they played last week. To be honest, they’ve been in a little bit of a funk since the Lake Travis game. I think we’ve got our heads screwed back on right … This was a big win for us tonight.”
Bennett said that his team has shown considerable improvement from predistrict play, where they finished with a 10-17 record.
“We’ve passed the ball better. We’ve reduced the amount of errors that we make – which makes the opponent have to score more points – and we’ve increased our kill percentage. Lastly, we got mentally tougher,” Bennett said.
After coming out flat last week, the Chaps wasted no time in taking control against Bowie. Outside hitters Corinne Grandcolas and Grace Weghorst, with some help from setters Molly Smith and Madison Borowski, led a Westlake offense that deftly thwarted the Bulldog defense with some well-placed attacks. The Chaps took the lead on the opening point of the first game and never trailed.
“I think we weren’t really prepared for the Del Valle game,” Weghorst said. “This game we were so ready. We were expecting a great opponent, which we got, and we just turned it on and played really well.”
The second game proved to be more difficult for the Chaps. Westlake gained a 6-2 lead early, but the offense suffered a dry spell and Bowie steadily pulled closer, bringing the score to 14-12. Westlake’s stagnant offense was helped by some critical mistakes from the Bulldogs – Bowie had seven service errors in the match. Bowie’s serving woes and solid defensive play by Borowski and Christie Ingram allowed the Chaps to correct their mistakes and win by a comfortable margin.
“We’ve kind of always played like this,” Weghorst said. “We do really well in the first game and the kind of get comfortable in the second game and have to fight again in the third game. Luckily, we won the second game and in the third game we played really well.”
There was little sign of the second game’s nefarious comfort in the final match. Westlake scored the first four points and rolled from there. Blockers Katie Daffer and Anna-Christine Parrish were a force at the net, scoring several kills and keeping the Bowie offense at bay.
“This was a complete 180 from Friday,” Smith said. “Everyone was talking, there was so much energy on the court. They were putting balls away, we were blocking – it was 100 percent better.”
Weghorst led the team in kills with 14, while Daffer and Grandcolas contributed seven. Defensively, Weghorst had 11 digs and Ingram had eight. Borowski and Molly Smith each added seven more, as well as 20 and 10 assists respectively. Daffer had four blocks and Grandcolas and Parrish had two. Borowski rounded out her solid statistical night with four aces. Mellenbruch and Kinsey Leavitt had two aces.
With the top seed coming out of District 15-5A, Westlake faces off against Cedar Ridge (fourth in District 16-5A) in the bi-district round 7:30 p.m. Oct. 30 at Rouse High School.
“Going into the playoffs, our strengths are hitting and defense. Defense definitely – on a good day – is one of our strengths. How we play as a team is a strength too. We really come together when we face adversity. I’m really excited,” Smith said.

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  1. keith says:

    I must admit, the way this team started the season I predicted there was no way they could possibly win district;They did. I will enjoy eating crow. Now, can they get out of the area playoffs?Coach Bennett must have finally found the right lineups or the opponents they played in the early season tournaments were just better then.

  2. Wlparent says:

    Coach Bennett has consistently found ways to make players play at the top of their game. He is a great motivator and strategist. His grads have gone on to do well in college vb. We did not have a daughter on his team, but we have followed him throughout the years.

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