The Rolla volleyball team (21-8-1) took part in the Willard Tournament on Saturday, Oct. 6. The Lady Bulldogs won their first three matches of the tournament, before facing three of their toughest opponents of the season on their way to a fourth place finish.
The Lady Bulldogs opened pool play against Winona. After pulling out a 25-23 win in the opening set, Rolla cruised to a 25-12 win in the second. They then fought through two great sets in their second match against Cassville, pulling out a win 25-23, 25-22. The Lady Bulldogs then beat Stockton 25-17, 25-15. Rolla took their first loss in their final pool play game when they faced off against the host and eventual tournament champion, Willard, 21-25, 22-25.
Rolla went on to face some equally tough competition in bracket play. First they fell to Rogersville 18-25, 13-25. That put the Lady Bulldogs in the third place match, where they fell to Fair Grove 19-25, 16-25. Rolla's three losses came from teams who entered the tournament with a combined six losses on the season. While Rolla was hoping to finish a bit higher than fourth, head coach Stephanie Pritchett was proud of how well her team played against stout competition.
"We competed with all three of these teams at their level! I was very happy with that," said coach Pritchett. "We had some major gaps in offense and defense that were more noticeable against that caliber of team. It will only help us as we go forward. We struggled with serving this weekend and gave away too many points, but overall I’m so glad we had this opportunity. I really felt like it showed our girls how close we are to being where we need to be to move past the district level. We are now 21-8-1 and look forward to 4 more regular season games before districts."
Shelby Ply and Rebecca Janke led the team offensively with 38 and 35 kills, respectively. Ply also had seven solo blocks and 10 assisted blocks on the day, while adding 32 digs and an ace. Janke added two solo blocks, five assisted blocks, three aces and 13 digs. Megan Brown had 21 kills, five assist blocks, 13 digs and three aces. Loran Pritchett led the team in assists with 52, while adding 33 digs, 11 kills, five assist blocks and three aces. Fellow setter Sophie Parsons contributed another 44 assists, 28 digs, five aces, three kills and an assisted block. Sophie Moreland chipped in with two aces and 16 digs, Sydney Hulbert added an ace and nine digs, Maddie Lucas had 16 digs, Parker Bourne added four kills and an assisted block, while Kayla Copeland had an assisted block.
Rolla will have a pair of Ozark Conference matches this week when they host Hillcrest on Tuesday, before playing Waynesville on Thursday.