HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL

Rouse sweeps Vandegrift in non-district showdown

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Grayson Schirpik remembered what happened last year when Rouse faced off with Vandegrift in non-district play. 

This year's version of the showdown between two of the top volleyball teams in Leander ISD was quite the opposite. 

Rouse was able to stay more composed and consistent in the final two sets, beating Vandegrift 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 25-10) on the road Tuesday night. One year ago, the Lady Vipers rallied in the fifth set to down the Lady Raiders in Leander. 

"We're always kind of confident, we just kind of go in with a nothing to lose mentality," Schirpik said. "A win like that is fun."

Schirpik led the Lady Raiders with 16 kills, eight serving aces and was second on the team with 12 digs. 

Freshman Kayla Lopez was second with six kills and three other players had three apiece. Senior Kara Erfurth led Rouse with 25 assists while senior Reilly Heinrich had a team-best 17 digs. 

"Defensively, we've played some of the best volleyball we've ever played," Rouse head coach Jacob Thompson said. "It shows a lot with those seniors on the court. And the freshmen are just chipping right in. It's a good way to go into Volleypalooza and go into week three."

For the Lady Vipers, head coach Melissa Southall said the biggest weakness was serve receive. 

"We have great servers and we practice it every day, yet we get out here and we're playing poorly," Southall said. "Our defense was not what we were showing last week. Rouse is an extremely good team and their defense was amazing and I think we got gassed."

The first set was very back-and-forth before Rouse started to play with more confidence and defense and pulled away for a 25-21 win. 

Rouse jumped out to a 10-4 lead in the second set and pushed that lead to 16-5 before the Lady Vipers went on a run to cut the double-digit lead to just five points. Lopez ended the set with a kill from the left side. 

The Lady Raiders were in control for the final set, jumping out a 14-9 lead. They won 11 of the final 12 points to finish off the sweep. 

"Overall, we mainly just controlled the runs, Schirpik said. "They would get two or three points and we would snap right back into it. Our serving game was really good. We've improved a lot in that and minimizing those errors."

Both Rouse and Vandegrift will take part in Volleypalooza, a 64-team tournament featuring elite teams from all across the state, beginning on Thursday.

The Lady Raiders are the hosts and are in a pool with Prosper, Rockwall Heath and Waller, while the Lady Vipers will be joined by Dripping Springs, Stratford and Montgomery in pool play on Thursday. 

Southall said the key to getting better at serve receive is simply repetition, and she's looking forward to the rhythm of the practice and game schedule once district play gets started later this month. 

"Let's see what the positive is starting on Thursday," Southall said. "The girls aren't happy with this, but they have to do something with it."

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