New head coach Katie Cicione wants the culture around the Woodridge volleyball team to change.
Three fairly competitive losses to Division I teams to begin the season was a start.
Even better was a rout of Ravenna by a score of 25-13, 25-8, 25-14 Aug. 23 in the Bulldogs’ Portage Trail Conference Metro Division opener.
“Everything just clicked. We looked really good,” said Cicione. “We were a little bit more disciplined than Ravenna.
“Even some of our junior varsity kids got to play. It was a good start to our Metro season.”
On Tuesday Woodridge lost at Metro rival Streetsboro 25-14, 25-18, 25-17.
In the win over Ravenna, sophomore setter Sarah Abood led the way with 12 assists and 3 aces.
“Sarah played really well,” said Cicione. “She ran a really, really fast tempo, and I think that’s why Ravenna struggled.”
Junior libero Lily Bowman had 14 digs and 4 aces.
“Lily was really consistent. She had no errors at all,” Cicione said. “She also gave really good leadership the entire match.”
Sophomore outside hitter/defensive specialist Mya Lathem had 8 digs and 4 kills, while junior middle hitter Jacierra Arnett contributed 6 kills and 5 aces.
“Mya had two errors out of 75 points the whole match. That speaks for itself,” said the coach. “She played very athletic, really smart and had really good ball control.
“Jacierra just continues to make big offensive plays. She’s definitely our leader on the offense.”
Junior right-side hitter Bailey Thompson had 6 kills and 2 aces, while senior defensive specialist Brayden Wigal had 5 digs and 3 aces.
Sophomore defensive specialist Jordan Ritterbeck had 4 digs and 3 aces.
Sophomore setter Alyssa Speakman had 5 assists, senior outside hitter Skylar Takacs had 4 kills, sophomore middle hitter Bella McBride totaled 3 kills and sophomore right-side hitter Angela Montecalvo smacked 3 aces.
In the loss to Streetsboro, Woodridge was actually tied with the Rockets 14-14 in the second set and 13-13 in the third set before the home team got it in gear.
“Then, in both sets, Streetsboro started having really good ball handling and ball control. And we just couldn’t match it,” Cicione said. “We also started making mental errors. We just didn’t make plays at crucial times, and Streetsboro did.
“Streetsboro plays a different kind of game than we’re used to. I feel like we’re extremely disciplined to run a quick offense, and we expect opponents to do the same.
“They had really good ball control. They’re really scrappy, they rarely have any hitting errors, most balls go over the net, and if the ball doesn’t go over the net, they bounce back right away.
“Streetsboro came in to win, and we didn’t.”
Cicione believes her team has what it takes to beat a team like Streetsboro.
“I told the girls on Wednesday, ‘We know how to compete. It’s just changing the culture from last year to this year,’” she said. “I know we’re going to be a different team when we see Streetsboro the second time around. This loss was good experience for the girls.”
Lathem had 11 digs and 10 kills.
“The first four points of the first set, Mya let everyone know who she was with four huge kills right off the bat,” the coach said.
Abood had 13 assists, Bowman had 10 digs and Arnett contributed 6 kills and 2 blocks.
“Sarah is just a consistent kid. She barely ever makes an error,” said Cicione. “She’s definitely one of our kids who has a high volleyball IQ and has a very good mental stability during matches like that.
“Lily did well on the defensive part of the game.”
Cicione wants her team to become more focused.
“We need to be more consistent and have the confidence to go in and know that we’re good enough to play at this level,” she said.
Woodridge took a 1-4 overall record and a 1-1 PTC Metro mark into a match at Cloverleaf Thursday.
The Bulldogs are scheduled to host Field Tuesday and travel to Coventry Thursday. All Metro Division matches and start at 7 p.m.
On Sept. 8 at 1 p.m. Woodridge is scheduled to play a tri-match against Cuyahoga Falls and host Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy.