Volleyball team drops Central
Volleyball teams have fairly defined roles.
One player does the bulk of the setting and the rest fall into two groups: hitters and diggers.
It's rare a team finds a player who can contribute greatly in both areas, and that's what makes Mackenzie O'Brien a rare player.
The Emmaus sophomore outside hitter was a force on both ends of the court in a big early season matchup with Central. She racked up 12 kills and 14 digs as the Hornets stormed back from losing a tight first set to drop the Vikettes in four games, 23-25, 25-13, 25-16, 25-17.
"I think we wanted to prove that we are the team we've been saying we are all season," O'Brien said. "And that we're able to compete with anyone else."
O'Brien and the Hornets did more than compete with Central, they overwhelmed their LVC West Division rivals.
After feeling each other out in the first set, Emmaus began to show its supremacy in the second. The team built a 9-3 lead on the strength of kills by O'Brien, junior middle Corinne Justus and junior outside Ali Traynor.
The lead swelled to 20-6 with record-setting senior setter Lisa Wallitsch serving. Wallitsch had a pair of aces and found both Justus and O'Brien for kills. Justus also added a block for a point.
In the third set, Wallitsch was able to find both O'Brien and Traynor on the outside and Justus in the middle for big kills. Traynor finished with 18 kills, while Justus had eight.
"I didn't expect it to be like this," head coach Gwen Millets said. "We dominated at times, but I was still on the edge of my seat. Central can come back, they've proven it many times."
But the Vikettes couldn't come back this time. Wallitsch kept setting her hitters and they delivered kill after kill. Central tried to rely on its outsides to put points away, but O'Brien and the back line players like senior Kiley Schlosser and senior libero Syndey Pickering were there to keep points alive.
A young team last season, the Hornets are showing that not only are they grown up, but they're ready to challenge for league and district titles again, after being out of the mix last season.
"Our court presence is still really young," Millets said. "We have six seniors, led by Lisa and Kiley, but we're still really young. Mackenzie has really developed into a mature, confident player. She plays all the way around."
With a Tuesday matchup with fellow LVC unbeaten Parkland looming, the Hornets will have a chance to continue to show their maturity.
"We've been playing well the last few weeks and our defense has really improved," O'Brien said. "We're just a better team than we were last year."