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West volleyball's defense generating offense

By Victoria Advocate
Nov. 10, 2011 at 5:10 a.m.
Updated Nov. 11, 2011 at 5:11 a.m.


They are saying all the right things before their match against Cedar Park Friday.

But, Victoria West is going to have the opportunity to play arguably the best high school volleyball team in America on Saturday afternoon, they have to find a way to beat Cedar Park in the Class 4A regional semifinal Friday.

The Warriors will likely need to play stellar defense against the 34-16 Timberwolves. Their plethora or hitters has garnered most of the attention throughout the year, but they have not abdicated their defensive responsibilities.

Libero Sara Hermes and defensive specialist Bryana Frazer are seniors, while a number of the Warriors' top players were on the 2010 team that qualified for the regional tournament.

"We're a lot more consistent with our serve receive," said senior outside hitter Kelly Fowler. "We work a lot on that in practice, so it has improved since the beginning of the year."

Frazer said defense is all about understanding where an opponent likes to attack, their arm swing when attacking and how those factors might force the Warriors to tweak their blocking.

West has never seen Cedar Park play and does not know much about the opponent.

However, Frazer and Longoria said the adjustment to the Timberwolves hitters will be quick Friday because it is their understanding Cedar Park has offensive similarities to the Warriors.

"We're confident," Frazer said. "We know we have to play like we have all year long and play the best we can. We don't want it to end."

Prior to West's regional quarterfinal victory over district rival Calhoun head coach Sandy Longoria said the back row, specifically the left side of the back row, has been the key to transitioning from defense to offense.

She said most teams have right-handed hitters, thus the left side of the Warriors defense sees more action than other areas of the back row.

"Defensively, Kelly and Kelsea have played much better (throughout the year)," Longoria said earlier this week. "We're able to not just dig the ball, but dig to target and get a kill out of it."

Fowler said that the team's communication with Hermes has also been critical to their defense and getting the ball to setter Blair Butschek to run the offense. She added that she is not the only one who has played well when next to Hermes.

Of course, it's easier to communicate with teammates when one has played with them since middle school.

Frazer, Hermes, Fowler, Darian Buster, Brooke Smith and junior Kelsea Kalich all attended Howell Middle School, where they learned to play together and win together.

"We've been playing together since the sixth and seventh grade. We have come to know each other and that bond for them," Frazer said. "We expect each other to be there and we are there for each other."

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