Whiteland’s volleyball team entered Tuesday’s Mid-State Conference opener against Greenwood seeking its first win in five tries, but the visiting Woodmen though they had just as many questions to answer. Maybe more.
Since playing unevenly in a season-opening, four-game home loss Aug. 15 to Greenwood Christian Academy, the Woodmen have made the necessary personnel and mental adjustments. They overcame a determined Warriors squad to claim a 27-25, 25-18, 25-23 win Tuesday.
The win was the Woodmen’s second straight, following a Thursday victory at Beech Grove, and improved Greenwood to 2-1. Whiteland fell to 0-5.
“In the first (match), we were a little nervous,” said Greenwood senior outside hitter Camryn LaMonaca. “We were missing three important seniors from last year, and we’ve improved our confidence.”
Whiteland could have set a completely opposite tone in the first game, but instead Greenwood rallied from a 24-22 deficit. A match-point service error by the Warriors allowed the Woodmen to rally, and they scored five of the game’s last six points to steal a victory.
“We worked on our consistency during the past week,” Greenwood coach Amanda Ratliff said. “We’re playing more to our strengths, which include our experienced outside hitters and the girls’ closeness. They care about each other.”
With Emily Struewing serving, the Woodmen took control of the second game, taking a slim 18-16 lead and building it to a 23-16 edge.
Ratliff praised sophomore middle blocker Alyssa Stilley and junior libero Brooklyn Pepper, who finished with nine digs, along with sophomore setters Lawson Roberts and Lauren Battinau.
“Alyssa is playing better every game, and our setters are developing,” Ratliff said. “We’ve moved around our rotations a bit and played the girls in some different roles. We feel a little better.”
Whiteland coach Kristin Estridge lamented the Warriors’ service errors but was happy with their improved serve-receive and overall effort.
“Elaina Robards, our libero, passed well all night (15 digs), and Tabby (Holzhausen, setter) has worked really hard,” Estridge said. “We need to take some things from our serving and get more consistent with that. But our effort and communication were there, and our hitters were being more aggressive.”