Rocket volleyball team opens with wins

Lynn Wilhelm

The Rocket volleyball team came out firing on all cylinders this season with Nebraska Capitol Conference wins over Yutan, Fort Calhoun, Ashland-Greenwood, and Douglas County West.

In the season-opening contest at home against Yutan on Tuesday, the Rockets wasted little time with leads of 5-2, 16-3, and finishing at 25-8 in the first set. In sets two and three, the Red Raiders pushed the Rockets a bit more, but not enough to call it close with the Rockets winning 25-19 and 25-15.

Kill leaders included 5’10 senior Lindsey Moss with 17, 5’8 sophomore Delainey Cast with 12, and 6’ senior Lily Vollertsen with 9. 5’5 senior setter Kennedy Stanley paced the Rockets with 10 set assists per set and 30 on the night. The Rockets recorded 7 service aces highlighted with two each from Vollertsen and Cast. 

The exceptional digging crew included 14 from Cast, 13 from senior libero Shayla Thompson, 12 from Moss, 9 from Stanley, and 8 from sophomore defensive specialist Rylee Seelhoff.

On Thursday the ladies ventured to Fort Calhoun for a 25-15, 25-13, and 25-7 win in front of a raucous Pioneer student section. With a faltering serve receive, the Pioneers never got into a rhythm and struggled to get the ball back over the net. The errors on the opposing side of the net didn’t give the Rockets as many opportunities to fire back.

The Rockets record 23 kills compared to the Pioneers 8. Kill leaders included Moss 9, Vollertsen 8, and Cast 5. The Rockets hit at a .283 clip.

As the Rockets pushed harder at the service line with 16 aces, they also had 14 missed serves. Ace leaders include 6 to Stanley and 4 to Cast. Stanley led with 20 assists and 5 digs. 

Saturday morning the Rockets headed to Ashland for a triangular with the host and Douglas County West. 

In a win over Ashland 25-9 and 25-13 in the first game, Moss came out strong on the first point with a kill and showed that she will be an all-state candidate this season with many more shots in her repertoire with the addition of a strong back row swing. Moss lead with 6 kills in the first set and 5 in the second. Other kill leaders included 7 from Cast and 3 from Vollertsen. They hit an exceptional .378 as a team compared to the Blue Jays .032.

Not only did Moss showcase as a hitter during the contest, but the Rockets serve game was on point for the day. Serving 95.8%, they piled up 9 service aces, led by 3 from Vollertsen and Seelhoff each and 2 from Thompson.

With high-quality serve receive from Moss, Cast, and Thompson, the Rockets also frustrated the opposing hitters with 33 digs, including 11 from Moss, 9 from Thompson, and 5 from Cast. Stanley led the offense with 20 set assists.

In the second game, the ladies avenged one of their only two losses from last season against DC West (6-1), 25-10, 25-15. The Rockets serve game pushed the Falcons out of system and didn’t allow their 6’4 middle hitter Nora Wurtz to take control at the net. The Rockets served 11 aces with Vollertsen having 4. Moss led with 8 kills, Vollertsen 6, Cast 5, and 5’10 sophomore Kayden Sisco with 2. The Rockets hit .265 for the match. Stanley had 21 assists. Dig leaders were Thompson with 6 and Stanley with 4. 

At 4-0 on the season, Head Coach Courtney VanGroningen is 99-15 in her 5th year at Syracuse. Her next win will be her 100th. The Rockets’ next game is at Lincoln Christian on Thursday, September 8th. Fans must wear a mask. The contest can also be viewed online at https://striv.tv/channel/lincoln-christian/.

Jayden Meyer tips the ball at the net against Douglas County West while teammate Lindsey Moss covers.