Junior Maddy Sherman’s jump-serve got Republic off to a blazing start, and Republic capitalized to take a straight-set victory over Willard on the road 25-13 25-18.
Serving to open the match is a role Sherman has grown accustomed to as the season rolls on.
“At first I was feeling a lot of pressure,” she says. “But then when we started to practice with it, and the more we started doing it, I felt like it’s nice to have that role, and I can get us off on the right foot, hopefully.”
Sherman opened the game by serving five consecutive points for the Lady Tigers, and set the pace for the rest of the match. Put in a quick hole, Willard was unable to recover.
“I just gain momentum. Of course, the first couple I’m kind of nervous, but then I try to hit spots and make it more difficult. As it goes on, I definitely get more confidence,” says Sherman.
“She’s done a great job,” coach Piper Wright says of Sherman. “She’s very consistent. She’s just very aggressive and it’s definitely hard to pass. She usually gets us a lot of momentum and gives us some confidence.”
In game two, Republic fell behind early. The Lady Tigers trailed until a small run evened the score at 11. Willard jumped out to another lead at 16-14, but Republic scored four straight, keyed by a Lexi Birlew block that prompted Willard to call timeout.
The timeout didn’t slow Republic. The Lady Tigers went on to win seven of the next nine points to close out the match.
“We served aggressively,” says Wright. “We put a big block up. They have some very strong hitters and we just wanted to put a block up and shut them down and get in their heads.”
Lexi Birlew had eight kills for Republic, and also had a strong defensive game with 17 digs. Emily Preston contributed three blocks to lead the team. Setter Sarah Kreul had 25 assists.
Republic improves to 19-6 overall, and 5-1 in the COC. They’ll compete next in the Ozark Grand Slam Tournament Saturday.
In the JV match, Willard won 25-21 22-25 25-23. The Republic freshmen lost 25-12 23-25 20-25.