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Latrobe volleyball seeking improvement in second half

| Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
Latrobe sophomore Noelle Carota plays against West Shamokin on Saturday, August 24, 2013, in Derry Township.

The Latrobe girls volleyball team isn't quite in the position it wants to be, but the signs of improvement are there.

Balls that used to find the floor are being played. Passing has become more crisp and accurate. The defense is gelling.

“It's been one of those roller coaster rides that comes from having a young team, having an inexperienced team,” coach Jordan Zuenges said. “I think we're starting to pick back up.

“When we played our best, it was better than the team across the court from us. But our worst was a lot worse.”

That proverbial roller coaster is climbing upward, and Zuenges' squad is fighting to keep it that way. The young offense of the Wildcats (2-5 overall, 2-4 in Section 1-AAA) is led by sophomore middle hitter Noelle Carota's 49 kills through the first six games. Sophomore hitter Aliesha Stas has 25 kills and senior setter Lauren Solomon has racked up 89 assists.

As the season progressed, consistency was brought about by change. A defensive adjustment made by Zuenges has worked well. Swapping Kelsey Paul and Katie Hendrickson resulted in each going a stellar 5 for 5 in dig attempts in Thursday's section match against Franklin Regional. Paul had been playing the No. 5 position, located in the back middle of the defense, where there is more space to roam. Hendrickson had been playing the 6 position in the back left. Zuenges switched the two because she figured their styles were better suited for the other's position.

“Kelsey is a stay-at-home defender who does best in her own space, while Katie does well at reading the play and reacting,” Zuenges said. “Both of those girls are very good defensive players, but because of the position change they are passing balls better than they were before.”

Earlier in the season, passing was sloppy, causing a chain reaction that usually ended with a poor play. Ball movement has improved since, resulting in less players being pulled out of position and making it easier for them to complete offensive sets. A kink the Wildcats need to work out is how they finish a play.

“That's the part we're struggling with,” Zuenges said. “We're putting it in play, but putting it right in the laps of our opponents. We're making it very easy for them to return the ball.

“As of right now, we need to work on our offense and when we have good defensive games, we counter it with good a good offensive game and, hopefully, we can string something together.”

Ed Phillipps is a freelance writer.

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