Quick start up front pays off

By Lenny Sementi
Tuscola’s volleyball team used a pair of fast starts fueled by a donation by the front row attack of twin tower Karli Dean and Cassie Russo to upend a pair of foes. Coach Lydia Miller’s squad didn’t drop a set beating Heritage in two games on Monday 25-19, 25-22 and Clinton a few nights later on Thursday at the friendly confines 25-20, 25-18 running their record to 8-4 overall and 3-1 in the Central Illinois Conference.

In both matches early runs led to game one wins propelled by Dean and Russo registering a combined 23 kills. Feeding the two-headed monster was Isabelle Shelmadine who delivered 38 assists on the week.

Allison Clark came up big again as well in the week’s opener against Heritage. Clark pounded out four of her six kills in the first game midway through the skirmish that put the Warriors up by five 18-13 against the Lady Hawks. Natalie Bates led all with 11 saves consistently passing the ball to Shelmadine to start the offensive attack. The two came through at the service line as well each adding an ace to the stat sheet while producing a combined 16 service points in the match.

Russo led the charge defensively at the net with a season high nine blocks to her credit. Dean tallied two blocks and let the back row take care of the rest on that side of the net. Shelmadine checked in with nine saves, McKinlee Miller with seven, Kyra Moyer six, and Lexie Russo five.

A few nights later against Clinton no one was more evident on defense than Bates. The junior scratched and clawed her way to a season high 15 digs. Bates allowed Shelmadine more latitude to set up the front row to the tune of 18 assists. The top two recipients were Dean and Russo who once more came out of the gate strong delivering a combined six kills in the first 15 Warrior points of the match helping coach Miller’s group to an early five-point advantage that they carried to a first set win 25-20.

Tuscola utilized eight aces, five of which came in the second set that allowed the Warriors to seal the deal on their third conference win of the year improving the league record to 3-1 on the year. Bates and Shelmadine each added two aces to their resume while Dean, C. Russo, Miller, and Moyer all delivered one.

The full story can be found in the Oct. 4, 2017, edition of The Tuscola Journal.