HOWARD LAKE – There were a lot of negatives coming into the night for the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted volleyball team. They were coming off a tough loss in five sets on the road against B-B-E, and they were also without their starting setter in Lanney Loebertmann. Even with all those negatives, the Lakers came through once again with a resounding 3-0 (25-14, 25-21, 25-15) victory thanks to the play of senior Kaitlyn Decker and freshman Marissa Teorey.
“I think it shows that we have a lot of depth for the season,” Lakers coach Brooke Decker said. “Just being able to bounce back right away and come back and put that behind us right away and move forward with it. We have a lot of season left, so I’m glad that really didn’t interrupt our way of playing for the games to come.”
“We keep working hard,” Kaitlyn Decker said. “We went to practice yesterday, and we were just working really hard. The tough loss kind of just motivated us, especially with Lanney who’s out. Last year we won at B-B-E in five, and this year we lost in five, so it really hit us deep because we wanted to beat them again because we haven’t beat them in a long time.”
A big reason for the bounce-back win was the play of Teorey and Kaitlyn Decker. Kaitlyn Decker, a senior who has experience at the setter position, fit right in as she found a connection with her hitters right from the get-go. She and the Lakers wasted no time in getting things going as they jumped to an 18-7 lead in the first set.
“We have been talking a lot about just stepping up for the team, and stepping up for Lanney,” Kaitlyn Decker said. “My mindset was really to just try my best. I really wasn’t focusing on a perfect set by any means, but just trying to put the ball up there and just let my hitters kind of handle it. I think we did pretty well for not having Lanney.”
Also sliding in for the Lakers at the setter position was Teorey. With Loebertmann out, the Lakers were forced into a new rotation, and the freshman proved she belonged by playing well for the Lakers.
“I knew I had to step it up because I’m use to playing JV,” Teorey said. “You have to be the bigger person out there and be able to communicate with the older girls.”
There was no doubt in Teorey’s mind she’d be ready when called upon, and that’s thanks to Loebertmann who was been a steady influence on her at practice all season long.
“She’s really influenced me a lot,” Teorey said. “She teaches me really well on what I need to fix. She just influences me a lot.”
With Kaitlyn Decker and Teorey playing the setter position, the hitters came through for the Lakers, as well. Camden Schank and Isabelle Roufs were both in double figures in kills, while Lily Deboer, Courtney Long, and Alexa Schuman also had a nice night at the net for the Lakers with two new setters.
“I’m super proud of both of them,” Brooke Decker said. “Marissa, being only a ninth grader, I thought she did great. You could definitely tell there was a lot of times that she was a bit nervous, but she stepped up and the other girls helped her along the way. I won’t put her in any situation that she couldn’t handle. She did awesome. Kaitlyn being out there, she’s set before. Being a senior, she definitely had a good court presence out there with her confidence and knowing where her hitter were and mixing it up.”
There was no doubt the Lakers would have loved to have Loebertmann out there, but with her out, there was nothing else to do but to play for her.
“I think that really showed not having her for this last week or so,” coach Decker said. “It just shows how much she does bring to our team each day, especially the speed to our offense and the speed of the game. I think the girls really feed off that, and when we have a player like that missing, it makes the other girls step up, as well.”
The Lakers are back in action Thursday night at Kimball to close out the week. Next week, the Lakers will get a tough test as they host Annandale and Maple Lake, both of who are highly-touted teams in Class AA.
“We’ve been looking forward to this since the day that we started preseason,” coach Decker said. “Maple Lake, we’ve always had a little rivalry with, and knowing that I’m from Maple Lake, and I know a lot of the players and everyone over there. It just makes it a more fun atmosphere and a game that we’re really going to prepare for and try to knock them off.”
“We are so excited for that,” Kaitlyn Decker said. “It’s going to be an awesome challenge, and we’re just going to come to practice and work really hard. We can do it. I know we can.”