McHENRY – McHenry volleyball coach Jeff Brunstrum huddled his team together during the three-minute break between games against Grant and refused to let the Warriors be complacent with their performance.
Coming off a Game 1 win, McHenry responded to Brunstrum, emphasizing the Warriors hit their spots on serves and move their feet on defense. It helped spur the Warriors to a 10-1 lead in the second game, led by junior outside hitter Haley Kornfeind's seven consecutive points at the service line. Grant wouldn't go down easily however, storming back to tie the game at 20.
But two kills by senior outside hitter Kayla Chancellor and two aces from junior hitter Hannah Conway, including the game winner, sealed the 25-19, 25-21 win for McHenry.
"We have to stay focused and we get ahead of ourselves sometimes when we're doing so good and let them catch up," Chancellor said. "But we pulled it out in the end and it shows that we work hard for what we want."
McHenry (2-1) nearly handed Game 1 away at the service line. The Warriors committed eight service errors which killed momentum on offense, however the Bulldogs (4-3-2) weren't much better finishing with five service errors in the first game. The final three points of Game 1 came off service errors.
"There's a fine line between aggressive and smart and we were a little bit too far on the aggressive side," Brunstrum said. "You have to have aggressive serves. otherwise it's far too easy for the other team. We have to be smarter with where we place our aggressive serves."
Running a 6-2 offense, McHenry setters Zoe LIndsey (13 assists) and Mary Rouse (10 assists) consistently spread the ball among its hitters. Lindsey and Rouse were just as deadly when attacking. Lindsey's six kills tied Chancellor and Kornfeind to lead the Warriors while Rouse added four kills.
"I feel like we all equally play the same and all have a huge impact on the team when we're out there," Kornfeind said.
McHenry's balanced attack is in important improvement from last season. While the Warriors have four players who have the potential to carry the team any given match, opponents can't key on one player because of the offense's versatility in the 6-2 system. Brunstrum is excited about McHenry's variety of options.
"I think we have a lot of players that can all put the ball away if they need to," Brunstrum said. "Even if someone's having an off night we have some [junior varsity] and substitutes that can put the ball away too if they come in off the bench."
Although Grant had its opportunity to force a third game, too many mistakes and an ineffective front row cost the Bulldogs.
"We've had really good practices the last few days and I really thought we were going to come in here and play better than we did," Grant coach Sue Thompson said. "That definitely was not our best."