Ally Kennis, Windsor Wizards ‘obnoxious’ — and effective — in five-set nail-biter against volleyball rival Roosevelt
October 11, 2017
WINDSOR — Roosevelt's active, scrambling defense was pesky, persistent, maybe even a bit annoying to Windsor attackers as it covered seemingly every area of the floor Tuesday in Reg Figal Gymnasium.
But when the intensity amped up to a fever pitch, Ally Kennis and her Wizards teammates were downright obnoxious. Proud of it, too.
Kennis — Windsor's junior hitter and vocal leader — provided the spark for the Wizards' boisterous, energetic and, ultimately, highly effective effort down the stretch of a dramatic 3-2 win against Class 4A Tri-Valley Conference volleyball rival the Rough Riders.
"In between that third and fourth set, Coach (LaVerne Huston) specifically told me, 'Hey, you've got to be a leader on the court and you've got to scream and yell and be obnoxious, because that's what gets everybody going,' " Kennis said. "We play with energy, we play with fire. That's how we play."
Windsor improved to 9-1 in conference, 10-5 overall. Roosevelt fell to 5-5, 12-7, but not without the pendulum swinging numerous times in the back-and-forth match, in which the Wizards prevailed by the slimmest of margins — 25-19, 22-25, 22-25, 25-19, 15-13.
After the Rough Riders won back-to-back sets to put Windsor on the brink of suffering its second conference loss, the Wizards regained their early match swagger.
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On a night in which each team traded moments of celebration — hoots, hollers and fist pumps — Windsor narrowly earned the right to celebrate last. And, perhaps no one was in a more celebratory mode after the final point than Wizards sophomore Gabbie Hertzke.
Fellow sophomore Ellie Garrett was delivering picture-perfect passes from her setter position all night long. Hertzke was on the receiving end of a few of those, including on the final point, as Hertzke powered through Roosevelt's block to give her team the hard-fought win.
Hertzke admitted she was questioning herself just a bit as she struggled to get on track early in the match before completely redeeming herself late.
"In that first set, I was like, 'I don't even want to be here anymore,' " Hertzke said. "Then, finally, in the fourth and fifth sets, I was like, 'OK, I know our team is good. I just need to stop thinking about myself and think about the team, start cheering for the team.' And, when we all got pumped, it just pumped me up."
Hertzke has spent the past two weeks working back into form after an early season concussion.
Tuesday's breakout performance may have been just what the doctor ordered.
"It was a huge boost for the team," Huston said. "I think they always have confidence in Gabby. But, I think more importantly, it was confidence for Gabby to prove she is very capable. … This was a big game for her."
Tuesday's nail-biter was a far cry from the first time these two longtime rivals met.
Windsor swept the Rough Riders on Sept. 12 in Johnstown.
Though Roosevelt fell short on several opportunities to close the Wizards out Tuesday, Rough Riders coach Emilee Braunsroth said she was encouraged by how much more competitive her squad was against Windsor this time around.
"We're building," she said. "We've changed some things a little bit, but we're building, too. I think if we can maintain this level of play, we can beat a lot of teams. … (The Wizards) are a tough, solid team; a much more offensive team than we are. But, I felt like, point for point, we hung with them, offensively."
The Wizards' late-match energy and infectious aggression were no more evident than at the service line.
Windsor had 12 aces, compared to eight for the Rough Riders.
Just about every time Roosevelt appeared on the verge of seizing momentum, the Wizards stifled it with a timely ace, as the Rough Riders' serve receivers were constantly on their heels.
"That's one of the things we preach a lot: We have to stay aggressive at the service line," Huston said. "We have a lot of good servers. And, any time you can take a team out of their offense, kind of disrupt that offense a little bit, it's going to play into our hands. I thought Blake Serrato did a nice job of serving balls."
Best Individual Performance
During a night with plenty of standout performances, Windsor probably wouldn't have been in position to win if not for Kennis.
The multi-talented junior finished with match-highs of 16 kills and five stuff blocks, tying Garrett for a team high of three aces.
This match seemed to turn about a dozen times.
In the fifth set, however, the Wizards took a quick 8-2 lead.
Undeterred, Roosevelt impressively battled back to take a 12-10 lead.
However, Hertzke came back with a critical kill for the next point, and Garrett's dump shot tied the set at 12. Senior Tannah Heath had an ace, and Hertzke had two more kills for Windsor's final three points.
Each team has four conference matches left.
Windsor travels to Longmont to take on Skyline (0-9, 0-14) at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Roosevelt returns to Johnstown and will play host to Erie (5-4, 12-5) at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
RHS 19 25 25 19 13
WHS 25 22 22 25 15
RHS — Kills: Logan DeRock 13, Dorie Moore 9, Carlie Schmitz 8; Assists: Jordan Jennings 46; Aces: Jennings 4, Schmitz 2, Rylee Adkisson, Jadyn Stumpf; Blocks: Jennings 3, DeRock, Maddy Greathouse; Digs: DeRock 30, Stumpf 29.
WHS — Kills: Ally Kennis 16, Rylee Greiman 14, Hollie Hoffman 10; Assists: Ellie Garrett 53; Aces: Garrett 3, Kennis 3, Greiman 2, Blake Serrato 2; Blocks: Kennis 5, Garrett 2, Greiman 2, Hoffman 2; Digs: Greiman 19, Heath 19, Hoffman 16, Serrato 16.