WESTFIELD TWP. — Cloverleaf rookie volleyball coach Courtney Maibach called it “evil.” Senior libero Nicole Kolodka referred to it as
“heart.” Whatever “it” is called, the Colts found it Tuesday night as they defeated county foe Highland 25-13, 25-22, 23-25, 25-22 in Suburban League action.
After jumping out to a quick two-game lead, Cloverleaf (2-4, 1-2) watched a pesky Hornets squad rally to win Game 3. The visitors were knocking on the door in Game 4 before the reigning conference champion Colts ran off three straight points to win the match.
It was a fire Maibach has been waiting for all season.
“We played timid all last week, but this week I’m starting to see a little bit of spark and a little bit of evil in their eyes,” she said. “I’m proud of the way they stepped up and for once didn’t play timid.
“As I told them, ‘You won the game. You didn’t wait on them to mess up.’ We came out and put plays together. They went out swinging and it worked.”
Behind the leadership of Kolodka and fellow senior Sarah Schleich, both of whom saw time on the varsity a season ago along with Alex Watkins, Cloverleaf made sure the program’s rare two-game losing skid in SL play came to an end.
“The juniors have it hard, because they’re not used to it, so Sarah, Alex and I are really trying to get them to go,” Kolodka said. “We want to continue the tradition and we at least want to have a winning season. We want to make the old girls proud.”
Kolodka was a major key to the Colts’ fast start, as the libero ran off 10 of her 19 service points for the match in the first game.
Schleich, one of top setters in the area, helped the cause with her hitting skills as she had the majority of her match-high 10 kills early on.
But the Hornets sent Cloverleaf looking for a can of Raid in Games 3 and 4, as Highland went from struggling at the net to stringing together rallies behind setter Katherine Knyszek (20 assists, 3 aces) and hitter Melissa Bush (7 kills, 2 blocks). Libero Missy Doak also was key, as the junior kept Hornet rallies going with her 20 digs.
“It was a good fight and I like where they’re getting to,” Highland coach Jeff McDivitt said. “Last year, we would probably have given a few longer runs, but we’re not letting the pendulum swing so much to the other side.
“When other teams make runs, we’re giving them 2-3 points and then we’re swinging it back. So, we’re right where we need to be. I like their fight.”
After trading leads for most of the deciding game, the Hornets took a 22-21 lead on a block-kill from Julie Janmey. A hitting error, however, gave the ball back to the Colts, who finished the match on a pair of Highland hitting errors and two kills from junior Megan Klinect (7 kills) off feeds from Schleich.
“We were telling each other just to stay calm and push through it, because we knew we could do it,” Kolodka said. “It was probably heart. We had to want it more and we did, which is good.”
Contact Dan Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.