Macey Kleitsch’s return has been key to West Delaware’s volleyball resurgence.
So, too, has been a better ability by her teammates to get her the ball in position to do her job.
“Defensively, we’re a lot more solid,” Hawks Coach Brett Mather said. “We’ve got a great young libero (in freshman Ella Koloc), and that’s certainly beneficial. She’s a true little athlete.”
West Delaware is one of the best teams in the area on a regular basis. The Hawks have played in 10 state tournaments since 2003, winning a championship in 2015. But Kleitsch, the Hawks’ setter, missed most of last season with injury, and West Delaware sank to relative mediocrity at 25-20.
“It was a struggle bus,” Mather said. “Certainly, we would have won more matches last year if Macey was healthy, she’s that talented, but that wasn’t the only problem. We weren’t passing the ball well at all.”
And that’s a rarity for Mather’s teams, which are based on defense first.
The addition of Koloc — who leads the team with 3.56 digs per set — has been a major reason for the back-to-excellent back-row play, but not the lone reason.
“It’s a whole-team deal,” Mather said. “Most of our other passers are back, and they’re a lot better than they were last year.”
West Delaware won a pair of matches Tuesday (against Center Point-Urbana and Monticello) to improve to 14-5.
Kleitsch, a junior, is a multi-dimensional threat. She averages 8.33 assists per set, and is second on the team in digs (2.81 per set) and third in kills (1.56).
At 2.71 kills per game and a .361 kill efficiency, senior Claire Demmer is the featured hitter.
“We need our other hitters to come around,” Mather said. “If that happens, we can be really solid and make some noise. We’ve already seen so much growth.”
River Valley round robin
The race in the River Valley Conference South Division will continue to sort itself out in the next week.
Wilton (15-0, 2-0) fired a major salvo by knocking off Class 3A No. 7 West Liberty (10-2, 1-1) in four sets Tuesday.
Preseason favorite Tipton (11-2, 3-0) faces both of the other top contenders in the next six days. The Tigers are at West Liberty Thursday, then host Wilton next Tuesday.
Milestone for Maggie Willems
Mount Vernon Coach Maggie Willems earned her 200th win Saturday at the Caroline Found Invitational at Iowa City West.
A former player and assistant for Shirley Ryan, Willems is in her eighth season as a head coach and owns a record of 200-87.
This year’s team is 10-6.
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