Bulldogs finding their ‘groove’
McLouth High volleyball coach Erika Houk thinks she might have finally found the right lineup for her Bulldogs.
Not that the team was in need of an overhaul - MHS went 2-2 this past week to improve to 7-4 for the season - but the second-year coach is really happy with her team's play now that everything is in place.
The Bulldogs have settled in on an eight-player rotation featuring junior Kylie Shufflebarger, setter Jeri Holwick, libero Logan Terry, Courtney Chilcoat, middle hitter Cassidy Bristol, senior Haley Holwick, Kasey Campbell and Jessie Troupe.
"They're getting into that groove and finally figuring out each other and playing with each other," Houk said.
On Sept. 9 at Oskaloosa, the Bulldogs started off the week slow, losing in two games to OHS and in three to Pleasant Ridge. Shufflebarger led the team with 20 kills and Jeri Holwick added 30 assists.
But on Thursday at Bishop Seabury in Lawrence, McLouth was stellar. MHS defeated Elwood and knocked off host Seabury. Shufflebarger again registered 20 kills. Sophomore libero Terry had 15 digs and Jeri Holwick led McLouth with nine service aces.
The highlights for MHS have usually come from the spikes of Shufflebarger.
"She's just a smart player," her coach said, lauding her leadership on the floor. "The girls just have a lot of trust in her. She's definitely our go-to girl."
It is McLouth setter Jeri Holwick, though, who gets things going for Shufflebarger by setting her up for kills at the net. The coach also praised the play of MHS defensive specialist Terry, who is finding her niche on the team.
"She's really stepped into those shoes after losing our senior Sam Farris, our starting libero last year," Houk said.
Chilcoat, the coach added, also is a major contributor, hustling all over the floor. That's the kind of effort Houk hopes her whole team will take on every play, not just occasionally.
"I'd like to see them be more scrappy, just have that fire in their eyes that nothing's going to hit their court," she said, adding that the grittier play will come because the Bulldogs have shown it in spots and they work on it a lot in practice.
McLouth played in a triangular at Jackson Heights on Tuesday after The Mirror's deadline. See next week's edition of The Mirror for more on those matches.