The Varsity Squad took the short trip to Oak Knoll for their divisional matchup looking to improve upon the serving and passing woes that beset the team against Rahway. It was a dominant performance by the Hilltoppers as they welcomed back the return of Captain and Libero Rebekah Thompson who solidified the two weak areas that were exposed on the match versus Rahway, serving and receiving. The Top earned a 24-4 kill advantage for the match, a 7-2 ace advantage and 1-0 on blocks. Unlike the Rahway match however, the team did not nullify that with hitting and serving errors and the result was a 25-18, 25-6 victory by the Summit team.
Eva Oberhuber took the first pass from the Royals and then followed up with a kill out of the OPP to start things off. Hope Basaman followed up with a kill from the OPP after Thompson stepped up to serve, Julia Nardino subsequently got a tip kill and Basaman added another OPP point which gave Thompson the opportunity to serve again, this time for an ace. And before 5 minutes had elapsed, the scoreboard read 5-0. The set became more of a back and forth affair after that but after a Vivian Roberts kill gave the Top a 10-5 lead, a Sarah Noa ace and an Oberhuber block (along with a few Royal errors) had the squad up 14-5. Oak Knoll just could not threaten the Hilltoppers offensively on a consistent basis which saw the Maroon and White maintain a comfortable 16-9 lead late.
Alison Wauters had passed exceptionally well in the set and finally found the court on a hard angle attack which sparked a run punctuated by a Thompson ace that had SHS up and in control 20-10. Two ball handling errors by Oak Knoll on the ropes at 24-14 and despite a run by the Oak Knoll squad that cut the lead down to 24-18 after a Summit hitting error, Roberts ended the drama with a seam shot between zone 1 and 6 for the 25-18 set 1 win.
Set 2 provided less drama but displayed a much more efficient and clinical performance by the Hilltoppers. Although a few errors early had Summit down 2-1, a kill by Cece Webb had the Top knotted up at 2-2 which quickly turned into 3-2 by a Roberts kill from the outside. While still in the front row, Roberts tallied the next 3 kills for the Maroon and White and SHS had built a 9-3 cushion. Ally Lipschitz continued the run with a tip kill and before Basaman was done from the service line, SHS was looking at an 11-4 lead. Anyone watching saw the immediate change from the Rahway match, few serving errors, error free passing and a clinical offensive efficiency not seen in the prior match. All those elements continued to be prominent as the set progressed.
When Thompson stepped up to serve leading 13-4, the only question was whether the SHS squad could maintain their level of play. Two aces by the Captain and another two kills by Roberts started to answer that question. Oberhuber also got in the mix with two kills and the Top had built the lead to 20-6. Lipschitz continued the serving attack with 2 aces and Thompson even got in the mix with an out of system, defensive instinctual hit over the net for a kill to push SHS to 24-6. Zacharias was brought into the match cold at that point to serve, a way to work on certain situations that the team may come upon in a game and the sophomore not only served safely but got a dig on defense that led to an Oak Knoll attack error which closed out the set and match 25-6.
Summit rebounded from their poorest serving match of the season with a 91.8% serving rate and had a 14.3% ace production led by Thompson with 3 aces on a 13/13 serving performance. Lipschitz served just in one rotation in the match but was 4/4 with 2 aces. With a new serving rotation now that Thompson returned, SHS went 29/32 with 4 aces from their top 3 servers.
With the Captain back on serve receive, the top receivers were outstanding, delivering 10/23 perfect passes to the setters and the squad overall passed at a very good 2.04 rating. This in turn led to many offensive opportunities for the Hilltoppers and Summit was particularly lethal on this match with a team kill % of 51.1% and a hitting efficiency of .298 led by Roberts who tallied 9 of the team’s 24 kills (kill %-75%) with a team leading .583 efficiency. The setters ran a very diverse offense as well as 6 other front row players got at least one kill led by Wauters who has stepped up in the absence of Hannah Barlow due to injury and not only has switched to the OH position but has taken an ever increasing and key role in the serve receive and offensive formations. Wauters was second on the squad with 4 kills with a .333 efficiency and a kill % of 44.4% versus the Royals. You need no more evidence than the combined assists number by Zacharias (18 assists) and Lipschitz (5 assists) to get a feel of how effective the entire offense was on this day.
The Squad takes on New Providence on Wednesday at home on all three levels