“We want them to develop and that’s what it’s about more at this point than the wins right now,” Kuffler said. “But we still have a long way to go. We have seen some good things. We believe in our daughters.
The inexperience manifested itself when Rock Island began to attack with an aggressiveness that almost seemed to frighten the UTHS defense. Suddenly almost every kill opportunity for Rock Island was being executed because UTHS didn’t want to engage in balls in midfield or had communication issues over who should hit it.
These are common mistakes with a team that haven’t played together, but Rock Island’s Lexi Thompson, a four-year-old varsity starter, used her veteran knowledge to bring this game under her control.
She finished with three kills, an ace and a block, but her biggest contribution was as a vocal leader. After every elimination or point won, Thompson was visibly in the middle of the court celebrating. This sparked not only the crowd and the bench, but also the players on the pitch.
“Lexi has grown tremendously from her freshman year until now,” Twing said. “Offensively she might not have been as effective as her first year and second year, but now it’s where we’re going. If we’re in the system, we can give her the ball and she can put it down.
The second set was pretty much the same. UTHS remained competitive, but Rock Island finished the set 16-9 to close the game with a 25-17 victory. Rock Island’s Addie Bomelyn stood out in this set with her net presence. The 5-foot-8-inch junior attacked quickly when given the opportunity and was a defensive force. She finished with five kills – tied for the team leader – two aces and two solo blocks.