It helps to be big and have confidence.
Those are attributes the Hickman Kewpies’ volleyball team used to beat Hannibal 25-6, 25-16 on Tuesday night at Hickman.
The Kewpies had a big size advantage on the front line and played a lot more aggressively because of that advantage, coach Greg Gunn said.
“We wanted to play clean, and we wanted to play well, and we came out and we did it,” senior outside hitter Veronica Smith said.
Hickman (1-0) dominated Hannibal (0-1) in ball control, kills and serving.
It was the first match each team played under the rally system, which the Missouri State High School Activities Association installed to speed up play. The change is minor for Hickman players, who play on club teams and are accustomed to playing under the rally system, Gunn said.
“They were ready to play and they believe that they can play well together,” Gunn said. “They’re used to winning, and they like it.”
The change places a greater emphasis on serving. Now that a service error counts for a point for the opposing team, it is more important to keep serves in play.
Serving was an advantage for Hickman. The Kewpies had three service errors in the match; two came in the second game. Hickman had 10 aces in the win.
Smith served 12 times without an error. She had two aces. Brenna Schlader, a senior middle blocker, served 13 times with three aces and no errors. Another senior outside hitter, Paige Ely, served 10 times and had five aces with one error.
With the Kewpies leading 10-7 in the second game, Schlader hit a powerful spike in the right-hand corner to give Hickman a four-point lead. The Kewpies took control from there as they pulled away.
“We didn’t know how Hannibal was going to be at the beginning, but we went out there real strong,” Ely said. “We were ready to go.”
Danielle Newton led the Kewpies in assists with 14.
Hickman was 17-for-25 in kills, with Smith leading the way. She was 6-for-8.
Alex Ristow added two blocks and Hickman had 10 digs.
Hickman jumped to a big lead early in the first game. With a 13-5 lead, Hickman reeled off 10 straight points to put the game out of reach. Nine points came with Smith serving.
Ely credits the team’s strong start to confidence.
“This year our confidence has changed to, ‘We’re going to win this game,”’ Ely said. “If you have that mind state, then you can pretty much be real confident on the court and take over.”
Ely also chipped in with three straight aces and Schlader served for five Kewpie points in the opening game.