A tourney test run
It doesn’t happen often in high school sports, but it did this time.
The Washington volleyball team drew Fort Madison in the first round of the state tournament, after facing them in its season finale.
Tonight’s game starts at 7:30 p.m. at Fort Madison.
The teams will meet a total of three times this season.
“It has got its advantages and disadvantages,” said head coach Julianna Berg, “the advantage being we played them twice already. We will kind of know what they have and their style of play. At the same time, they have played us twice, so they know what to expect from us.”
Another dynamic to deal with after this match will be getting up for the same opponent back-to-back.
“It is hard to play the same team over and over,” Berg said. “It is hard to get excited about playing the same team.”
The Bloodhounds took the earlier meeting on Sept. 25, 3-1. Washington won game three 25-22 but wasn’t competitive in the last match, losing 25-4.
“I remember the third set was the one that we won,” Berg said. “We played really well. We came back in the fourth set and struggled a lot. We got down by too much and couldn’t recover from it.”
In that match sophomore Amber Salow led the team in kills with three. Junior Lauren Swan had 12 digs, and junior Rachael Hall had a team-high eight assists.
Fort Madison junior Meagan Hoenig hurt the Demons with a game-high nine kills and four blocks.
“I recall that they have a pretty decent middle,” Berg said. “She really hurt us a lot.”
Washington will pay more attention to detail on defense and digging balls out.
“We will be focusing on playing better defense today than the first time we played them,” Berg said. “We have a better feel for where we should be placed on defense, and what kind of things they will be throwing at us.”
Washington has some momentum from Senior Night. It topped Keokuk 3-2 after trailing 2-1. It was a rematch of Keokuk’s 3-1 win Sept. 17.
“Coming off of last Thursday with a win is just such a huge confidence builder for our girls,” Berg said. “Going into tonight they will have more confidence and believe in themselves a little bit more. We are going to come out and give them our best serves and give them our best passing. If we can do those two things well everything else will follow.”
Sophomore Amber Salow led the team with 11 kills and Victoria Bennett had five, including the match point.
“I’m looking for (Amber Salow and Victoria Bennett) to come out and put up those big numbers,” Berg said, “Victoria with her swings and Amber with her swings.”
The game could be decided on how aggressive Washington plays on defense.
“Senior Michelle Holland came out Thursday and played really smart,” Berg said. “She is such great blocker, too. I’m hoping we can put up a big blocker that will put pressure on Fort Madison.”
Berg has a rare chance to test different starters against the same opponent.
“Comparing the lineup that we use tonight versus the lineup we used against them last time,” Berg said, “we will see how the girls adjust to playing them the second time. Do they make the necessary adjustments we talked about or do we still need to go back and work on that.”