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Victoria West opens season with a bang at El Campo

Aug. 9, 2011 at 3:09 a.m.
Updated Aug. 10, 2011 at 3:10 a.m.

Victoria West's Darian Buster, left, Sara Hermes, center, and Kelly Fowler celebrate the final point in their victory over El Campo Tuesday at El Campo High School. The Warriors defeated the Ricebirds 3-1 in their first game of the season. ANGELI WRIGHT/AWRIGHT@VICAD.COM

EL CAMPO - Victoria West volleyball fans can only hope Tuesday was the first of many nights where Sara Hermes sprawls for the dig, Blair Butschek sets the offense and one of her teammates produced a thunderous kill.

That chronology one reason the Warriors opened their season victorious against a rebuilding El Campo 25-17, 25-18, 19-25, 25-19 on Tuesday night.

Butschek produced 38 assists in her first extended action with the West varsity. She said there were some butterflies at the outset, but those soon vanished because she knows hitters like Kelsea Kalich and Brooke Smith will get the side out.

"I was nervous, but when I got out there i had my girls to back me up," Butschek said. "I know I have some big shoes to fill."

Kalich led all players with 16 kills while Smith smacked a dozen as the Warriors middle hitter.

El Campo switched middle blockers Nikki Grant and Kacey Kunesek at the start of the third game in the hopes they would neutralize West's Smith and Rachel Hamon. Head coach Melissa Popp said she felt the change was effective and woke up the Ladybirds.

Outside hitter Rebecca Korenek had 10 digs and six kills. Sally Johnson had eight kills and eight digs, and Chelsea Soliz tied a game high with 15 digs for El Campo.

After graduating seven seniors from the team that qualified for the Class 4A playoffs, the Ladybirds had quite a challenge ahead of them to start their season. Nevertheless, Popp is optimistic about her bunch.

"I don't think we played our best ball tonight," Popp said. "I think we have a lot of really good things to come in the future. We just need to get some games in and get the game-time play in."

El Campo won the first six points of the fourth game behind the knuckling, unpredictible serves of co-captain Lauren Gregurek.

During that run the Ladybirds tried to disrupt the West offense by serving to Hermes. However, the West senior was hip to the strategy and made an adjustment.

"I tried to be mentally prepared," said Hermes, who had 13 digs on the night. "I knew they were going to come to me because they had a run. I told myself 'make a good pass' because if we do we'll get it down."

Hermes had had reason to believe as a Kalich kill allowed West to take a 17-15 lead in the fourth and not look back.

"The reason we got behind was we were making our own errors," said West head coach Sandy Longoria. "They were serving us pretty tough and we weren't able to pass effectively as we normally do, so they got on a roll. We got in our own hole so we had to dig out of it.

"These girls can do that. We've had to do it in the past. They are fighters. We concentrated on being patient, once we had the opportunity to put the ball down."

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