By RON PRESTON
There were two different programs on the volleyball court Tuesday night. One has tradition, experience and depth and the other is in a rebuilding phase.
The Abilene Cowgirls opened North Central Kansas League play against their rivals from Chapman and took both matches to increase their overall record to 5-0 and their NCKL record to 2-0.
“Our girls played well,” Abilene Coach Mike Jantz said following the matches. “I am pretty pleased with the youth tonight, as they had to step in and help out because starter Ashley Collette went down in practice yesterday with an injury so she didn’t get to play tonight. She should be able to go on Saturday.”
“With the injury to Collette it gave Claudia (Hess) playing time today and I think she did some nice things, hitting specifically,” Jantz said.
Jantz is in his 26th season at AHS and has built the tradition of Cowgirl volleyball in the NCKL. Chapman Coach Erin Bell is in her first year at the helm of the Irish although she is an experienced head coach after four years at Herford, Texas.
Chapman has one senior on the roster in Vanessa Lovett and they started three sophomores, Abby Sweet, Macey Langvardt and Daryan Weis, along with juniors Ashley Hansen and Milea Anderson.
Cowgirl senior setter Courtney Geist opened the first game of the first match with 11 service points and five of them were aces. This enabled the Cowgirls to ride to a 25-10, 25-9 win over the visitors from Chapman. Geist also had eight assists in the game.
“The first game of the night we weren’t us at all,” Chapman coach Bell said. “We passed terrible and Abilene started serving aggressively. I was really impressed with Abilene’s serving tonight.
“We didn’t pass the ball well at all so we didn’t do anything very well the very first game of the first match,” coach Bell said.
Senior Taylor Thompson and freshmen Jessica Hayes and Olivia Gassman each scored four service points in the first game.
In game two of the first match, junior Storm Dalton led the Cowgirls with eight service points and four aces. Gassman added six points and an ace.
Geist accounted for nine assists in game two of the first match as the Cowgirls won 25-9.
The second match started off much like the first as Geist provided 15 assists and five service points in a Cowgirl 25-9 win over the Irish. Hayes led the team with nine service points and three aces.
Senior Allie Walters collected her second block of the night in the victory.
The final game had Hayes score 17 service points with three aces while Geist had nine assists and six serve points. Walters picked up her third block of the evening in a 25-6 Cowgirl win.
“Jessica Hayes served the ball well again and everybody just played well,” Jantz said. “There were a couple of stretches where we gave up some points on bad errors and once we get to a point where we eliminate those, then I am going to be happy.”
“We are just stronger than they are right now and hopefully when Coach Bell gets a chance to work with them and teach them what she wants, they will get better also,” Jantz said about Chapman.
“We started passing better after the first game of the night, we had some really great passes but we didn’t quite seem to put it all together,” Bell said. “There were moments of greatness but when it came to putting stuff together we just missed the mark.”
“We have lots of work to do in practice,” she said. “We are young but we can’t make losing a habit.”
The Cowgirls will travel to Southeast of Saline for a tourney on Saturday while the Irish will head to the Riley County Tournament.
Junior varsity match number 1: Abilene defeats Chapman 25-5, 25-10.
Junior varsity match number 2: Abilene defeats Chapman 25-5, 25-11.
Freshman match number 1: Abilene defeats Chapman 25-7, 25-6.
Freshman match number 2: Abilene defeats Chapman 25-6, 25-9.