PREP VOLLEYBALL: Royals showcase weapons in sweep of Eden Valley-Watkins

WATERTOWN – The Watertown-Mayer volleyball team has a plethora of weapons and they’re not afraid to show them. The Royals had just about everything working as they cruised to a 3-0 (25-21, 25-18, 25-16) victory over Eden Valley-Watkins Tuesday night at home.

“They’re a tough team to play,” W-M coach Andrea Raser said. “We needed to step on the court right away and be ready to play.”

The Royals did just that as Jannesa Berrios came out swinging early. The senior rattled off three straight kills to give the Royals an early lead. Despite getting off to a good start, the Eagles didn’t let the Royals get away that easy. The Eagles and Royals battled back-and-forth, and the first set was tied at 15. That’s when the Royals put the pedal to the medal, finishing on a 10-6 run in which five different players recorded at least one kill.

There’s the familiar names like Berrios (18 kills), Paige Thibault (8 kills), Kylie Hoese (5 kills), and Vanessa Schroeder (5 kills) that usually lead the way for the Royals. Tuesday night, it was junior Kailey Olson that got in on the action and has begun to find her place in the offense for W-M.

“She’s found her swing and she’s staying aggressive,” Raser said. “She’s playing the ball and is playing confident. We need that.”

While the Royals have enough weapons at the net to keep opposing teams honest, it’s been the play of eighth-grader Kate Thibault that’s helped propel the Royals to a strong start this season. With Ellie Ernhart gone from last year’s team, Thibault has stepped into a big role at libero for Royals to no surprise for her coach.

“Yes, I can,” Raser said about Thibault fitting in well with this group. “I knew she would. She fits in with this team really well. It helps that there is a sister on the team, and they kind of have a good balance with each other. It keeps them just pushing each other to be better, and to be better for their team.”

Thibault’s emergence this season hasn’t been lost on her teammates either. They’ve welcomed her with open arms, knowing how important she is to the success of the Royals this season.

“These girls respect good players,” Raser said. “They respect someone who can step up and be a part of the team and be a good teammate. If you can step out on the court and be a good teammate, you can earn the respect of these girls pretty quick.”

Thibault finished with 15 digs in the win over the Eagles. Although just an eighth-grader in her first varsity season, she’s felt right at home along side the Royals this season.

“They’ve helped me a lot,” Thibault said. “They’ve helped me with knowing teams and knowing what they can do and how to play the game. They know what do.”

Playing at the varsity level can be pretty nerve racking for an eighth-grader, but Thibault has kept the same mental toughness and mindset with her all season.

“I try to just keep my focus and not really focus on anything else other than the game,” Thibault said. “I try to think more about my passing and serving and just trying to help the team.”

Look for the rest of the story, as well as more sports coverage, in the Friday, Sept. 14 edition of the Herald Journal. Click here for subscription information.

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