There was plenty of uncertainty as the Litchfield volleyball team entered the 2019 season.
Many of them are still being answered, but coach Darin Swenson likes what he’s seen through the first 13 matches.
“I just want to stress that I’m very happy with how the team has come together,” Swenson said. “We had a lot of question marks coming into the season about how we were going to fill some roles, fill some shoes, and the girls have been very positive about trying to figure things out. That made things easier. Ultimately it is going to help us out as we go down the stretch here.”
The Dragons reached the championship match of a second consecutive tournament Saturday, this time falling to Rochester John Marshall at the 12-team Jackson County Central tourney. In a hard-fought match that saw none of the three sets decided by more than three points, the Dragons fell 25-22, 23-25, 15-13. But their 3-1 record in the tournament boosted their season mark to 9-4.
And best of all, some of those questions were answered.
“We made a lot of great improvements,” Swenson said. “Specifically, one thing we did a lot better was our defensive intensity. We got after things a lot more. We played to the whistle a lot more than we had been.”
The Dragons also proved capable of adjusting defensively to opponents’ playing style.
Leading the way for the Dragons was senior Kamri Driver, who “did a great job anchoring our defense,” Swenson said.
Driver had a team-high 2.11 serve receive rating and also collected 52 digs and five assists.
“Kamri was playing at the level that Kamri is capable of playing,” Swenson said. “She was working hard the past week or so, trying to figure out some things that were giving her a little bit of trouble. (Saturday) she passed well, was in the right spot defensively. There were a couple of plays where she came flying in and saved us, kept us going defensively.”
The Dragons got an offensive lift from the duo of Sydney McCann and Colby Christensen, who had 34 and 26 kills, respectively, in the tournament.
“That was probably the most efficient the two of them have been together this season,” Swenson said. “That was nice to see.”
Some of the success experienced by McCann and Christensen was due, Swenson said, to a solid performance by setter Kristin Foley, who collected 71 assists and had 28 digs on the day.
“She was turning some not-great situations into better situations,” Swenson said.
It was the kind of day that should give the team and its fans reason for optimism as the Dragons head into the second half of the season.
Two of the team’s four losses have been competitive affairs, while the other two haven’t been as close but tested and provided learning opportunities, Swenson said.
“I hope the experience from those matches helps us,” he said. “The team has come together. We’re still tweaking a few things, hopefully getting a little closer.”
Litchfield was scheduled to travel to Kimball Tuesday, then play a home match against Mound Westonka Thursday.