Athletics News

Women's Volleyball

Improving CCBC-Essex aces Chesapeake netters
Franks gets plenty of help from her friends in sweep

WYE MILLS – Not so long ago, Taylor Franks was the offense for the CCBC-Essex women’s volleyball team. Now that her workload is decreasing, the Knights’ win total is increasing.

"We really didn’t have any offense until two weeks ago," said Essex head coach Viviana Zamora-Luna Tuesday evening after the Knights swept host Chesapeake College, 25-16, 25-13 and 25-11. "We have so many options now. We can go to different hitters and take the pressure off No. 8 (Franks)."

Frank is still the main attraction in the Knights’ show, witness her 14 kills, six aces and 17 points won on serve against Chesapeake. She was the only Essex hitter with any kills in Game 1, but Amber Simon has three kills in Game 2 and Courtney Krout had three in Game 3 as the Knight attack began to show its new-found balance.

"It started out pretty slow because we only had two returners and a large variety of experience," said Franks. "It started to turn around when we went to Chicago for a tournament. Everyone got a lot more touches and a lot more experience playing together. We really have started to come together."

Chesapeake head coach Jordan Glessner said setter Morgan Souchak was just as integral a part of the Essex team as Franks.

"I think their setter really holds the team together well," said Glessner. "She always hustles and her sets were wonderful. They were able to capitalize on what they had."

The Skipjacks, on the other hand, are still a work in progress on offense after four straight losses.

No Skipjack front-liner had more than a single kill in Game 1 and Chesapeake (6-8) had twice as many point-scoring dinks compared to the single kill in Game 3 by Rose Smith. Jen Carr, with two kills in Game 2, was the only Skipjack with multiple kills in any game.

"We are trying something new where we’re kind of letting anyone play whatever position they’re at because we’re focusing on communication," said Glessner. "We might not have the kills we used to have, but we’re finding the team is communicating better. It’s helping with mechanics and getting people back to the basics."

While players like Franks and Souchak have stepped up for Essex, Glessner said she is still waiting for that to occur with the Skipjacks.

"We’re just looking for a leader to step up and that has not happened yet," said Glessner.

Despite the Skipjacks’ offensive woes, they stayed close early thanks in large part to Essex errors. Franks had two kills and an ace to stake Essex to an 8-4 lead, but the Skipjacks pulled within 9-8 in Game 1 as Essex committed three service errors, a hitting error and two violations. Lisa Hood’s kill and Amber Labille’s ace were also key plays in keeping Game 1 close.

Essex, however, answered with a 6-0 run, including two aces by Taylor Pearce during a five-point service run. Chesapeake pulled within 16-13 on a Ciera Ricker ace and was within 19-14 after a Labille kill and Tiffeny Ricks ace, but Essex reeled off the final five points of the game on a Franks service run, including a game-ending ace.

Game 2 followed a similar pattern, with the game close in the beginning before the Knights pulled away. Chesapeake tied the game, 8-8, on a Labille ace, but Essex ran off three straight points to take the lead for good as Franks put down consecutive kills. Franks served seven straight points to turn a 17-12 game into a 24-12 rout, and Simon finished Game 2 with a kill. Essex took control of Game 3 from the start, running off the first six points as Franks and Krout each threw down a kill, Claudia Valencia contributed an ace, and the Skipjacks committed two hitting and one setting error.

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