LAKE LINDEN - For the first two sets of the match Thursday, the Lake Linden-Hubbell and Hancock volleyball teams were mired in an early season pattern.
Passes were sprayed, sets were imprecise and kinks were still very much being worked out.
Then the Lakes found their form.
Hancock’s Katelyn Anderson takes on the Lake Linden-Hubbell blocking pair of Ciara Larson and Brittni Kisul in the second set Thursday. LL-H would win the match 3-1. (DMG photo by Michael Bleach)
After splitting the first two sets with the Bulldogs, LL-H dominated Hancock 25-11 and 25-10 to end what had started as a competitive match very quickly.
LL-H coach Karen Keranen credited sophomore setter Sarah Audette for the turn around.
"Our hitters came alive because the sets were more precise," LL-H coach Karen Keranen said. "When we can sharpen up that area of our game, we have the hitters. That is really what it comes down to. We have a young setter (sophomore Sarah Audette) and senior who is young on experience (Annalise Polkinghorn). When they settled down we started connecting and then we can put the ball where we want to.
"There is no doubt, that when we give better passes we are going to get better sets," Keranen added. "At this point, I don't consider us a super-strong serve-receive team. We are inconsistent. But when we are on, you can see what they can do."
And where they put the ball was the very capable hands of senior middle hitters Mandy Perreault and Brittni Kisul.
Perreault put away a team high 15 kills, with 10 of them coming in the last two sets. Kisul was second on the team with nine kills.
"Mandy was hitting it all over the court; off speed, hard hits, corners, she got it all," Keranen said. "She is not a mindless volleyball player, she knows where she is putting them."
Kisul nearly put away the fourth set all on her own with what amounted to a serving clinic.
With a flat, hard dipping serve, Kisul collected six aces in a 12-point run to open up the fourth set and deflate Hancock completely.
"When she is on, it is an incredible weapon," Keranen said. "Its a hard topspin, that just drops down. She has such a whip, that the ball moves and she is very effective."
The four sets served as an easy teachable moment for Keranen.
When the serve receive is strong, and the setting focused, her team has more than enough weapons - with Ciara Larson outside and Perreault/Kisul in the middle - to compete with any opponent.
Audette finished with a strong 23 assists Thursday. Now Keranen would like to see that same form consistent throughout each set.
"She is very quick and now she can start understanding the concepts of the game," Keranen said. "She knows that her sets have to be distinct, that can't be in that grey area between hitters or close to the net or off the net. When she is sharp in her game, we are sharp as a team."