It is time to get busy for the Yuma High School volleyball team.
The squad is 4-4 overall (climbing to .500), 1-0 in the Lower Platte Activities Association, after last Thursday’s win at Akron. The girls have not played since, returning to The Pit on Friday to take on Caliche.
And that ends the laid-back schedule early in the season.
Yuma follows the Caliche match by playing in the Akron Tournament on Saturday, then plays at Haxtun on Tuesday. It is the beginning of an extended stretch in which they will play two to three matches each week.
“We just need to do as much as we can when we get in the gym,” head coach Jamie Robinson said.
The LPAA features some top-level teams, such as Sedgwick County and Wiggins among the best in all of Class 2A, and Merino showing to be a contender in 1A.
However, it drops off considerably after those three. Holyoke, Yuma and Haxtun are all around .500 heading into late September, while Wray and Caliche both entered this week 2-7, and Akron remains winless.
“The league is loaded with .500 teams, so those games are going to be very important to us,” Robinson said. “We need to beat those teams that are a lot like us.”
Yuma was No. 38 in the 2A Rating Percentage Index as of Friday of this week, but will have plenty of opportunities to move up the RPI ladder and into regional consideration over the next month. (The top 32 advance to regionals.)
The Yuma Volleyball Team seems to be getting more comfortable in the new scheme incorporated by Robinson in her first season as head coach.
“The girls are good with me making changes,” she said. “I made a change before the Brush game (two weeks ago), and I still want to see what it looks like against Caliche and at the Akron Tournament before deciding if I want to make any more changes.”
The Caliche match will be the third home date of the season for Yuma. The girls then travel back to Akron on Saturday, where they are in a pool with Akron and Stratton. Otis, Holyoke and Byers are in the other pool. Yuma’s pool matches are on the main court, with the first against Stratton at approximately 10:30 am, followed immediately by playing Akron. The fifth-place, third-place and championship matches will then be played one at a time on the main court.
Yuma will definitely be familiar with the Akron court after playing there last Thursday, winning in four sets, 22-25, 25-9, 25-21 and 25-21.
Robinson had voiced concern that Akron would come out fired up seeking its first win. Sure enough, the Rams played inspired in the first set, leading or in a tie most of the set. Yuma rallied for a 21-20 lead, but Akron closed out the set after that.
However, the YVT came right back to take control in the second set. It was 3-3 when Emma Rayl served up eight straight points, including several aces, and the YVT cruised from there for a 16-point win.
Yuma kept it going in the third set, taking a 14-9 lead. Akron, though, battled back to trail just 19-18 and kept it close until Yuma closed it out with a missed serve by Akron and a set-winning kill by Jailyn Mekelburg.
Yuma actually found himself trailing 5-10 in the fourth set, but ran off eight straight. Yuma led 22-16, but Akron scored four straight to keep it interesting before Yuma finally closed it out with a 25-21 win.
“They were scrappy and we had some long rallies, some of which we won,” Robinson said. “I think it shows the character of the girls that after losing that first set, they kept their composure and came back to win the next three.”
A balanced net attack was led by Caddis Robinson with 14 kills, followed by Mekelburg with 11, Lea Richardson eight, Alina Moran six, and Elizabeth Mendoza three. Rayl recorded 19 setting assists, while Richardson had eight, Robinson seven and Moran three. Rayl was 20-22 serving with nine aces, Robinson 22-23 with two aces, J. Mekelburg 14-14 with two aces, Liddy Day 8-11, Cheyanne McCreath 7-8 with one ace, Lyndsey Mekelburg 6-8 with two aces, Mendoza 3-4, Richardson 2-4, and Chloe Smith and Moran both 1-1. Richardson and Robinson led in digs with 11 each, and Robinson, Rayl and L. Mekelburg led in serve receive.