Villa Angela-St. Joseph coach Mark Royer knows what it takes for a volleyball team to play at a championship level.
The current Vikings aren’t there quite yet, but Royer certainly likes the direction VASJ is headed and the potential of his hard-working squad.
Following a 3-0 loss to powerhouse Gilmour on Sept. 2, the Vikings responded by sweeping NCL White rival Cleveland Central Catholic and then came home to split with South and Geneva in a tri-match at Viking Village on Sept. 12.
VASJ lost a hard-fought, length match to South, 3-1, before taking out Geneva, 3-0. The Vikings are now 6-2 on the season.
“We were kind of disappointed in the loss to South because we felt like we beat ourselves,” Royer said. “No disrespect to South. They are a good team and well coached, but we really felt like we shot ourselves in the foot and it was something that required a change in mentality and attitude. I’m not saying we gave the match to South, they earned the win, but we didn’t play our best.”
“We played real well against Geneva, so I was glad to see that, but it was hard to swallow the fact we beat ourselves in the match against South.”
The Rebels outlasted the Vikings, 21-25, 25-23, 26-24, 26-24. Rachel Smith had 42 assists, 9 kills and 11 digs against South, and followed up with 24 assists and 4 kills against Geneva. Emily Mastalski had 22 kills in the two matches on Sept. 12. Nikka Shadey finished with 40 digs and six assists. Kiarra Franks had 7 kills and 4 blocks in the win over Geneva.
At 6-2 on the season, Royer sees plenty of upside for the Vikings, especially from freshmen Kathleen McGarry and Rebecca Korosec. Smith continues to provide productivity and leadership and has put herself in some rare air as far as Royer is concerned.
“In my opinion when it is all said and done, Rachel will be one of the top five players to ever come out of this school,” Royer said. “She is a special player.”
Angie Zamora, Michaela Mitchell, Shadey, Mastalski and Franks have been key members of the rotation, which Royer said he wanted to increase to nine by bringing up JV setter Emily Bopp for the tri-match on Sept. 12.
A big upcoming schedule for VASJ includes a home match against conference power Trinity and another match at Viking Village against St. Joseph Academy.