Columbus East sophomore libero Brooke Banister had a way of causing problems for the opposition at Saturday’s season-opening Round Robin Invitational at East High School.
During the Olympians’ final match against Bloomington North, Banister was everywhere on the court, but it was her serving that caused havoc against the Cougars.
After the Olympians trailed 10-3 in the first set, Banister created a giant opportunity for East to go ahead, scoring seven consecutive points, including an ace, to put her team ahead 12-11 and eventually take the first set 25-19.
She didn’t stop there, as the Olympians went on a 11-3 run to start the second set, with Banister serving during five of the 11 points. The Olympians would take the set 25-12.
In a rather back-and-forth final set, Banister helped the Olympians propel to a 20-16 lead, and East won the final set against the Cougars (1-2) 27-25.
Banister ended with four aces and led the Olympians (2-0) with a combined 24 digs for two matches.
“I was real nervous at the beginning,” Banister said. “Once I got the first set out of the way, the nerves disappeared, and I was able to play really well.”
East coach Faith Wilder-Newland said that Banister’s serving has been a key to the Olympians’ success.
“She’s been serving really well for us in practice,” Wilder-Newland said.
“She hits hard and fast, and teams have trouble facing that type of power.”
The Olympians also defeated Terre Haute South (3-1) 25-13, 25-22, 25-22 Saturday morning.
Wilder-Newland said the team bounced back from some early nerves against the Braves.
“It was good to get the wrinkles out,” Wilder-Newland said. “We had some nerves early in the day, but I think the girls really came together and played great today.”
“It was such a nerve-racking day,” Banister said. “Once we started connecting and played well, we knew we were going to be fine.”
Sophomore Alaysha Pollert, who matched teammate Ashlyn Robbins with 29 assists, said the team’s confidence is building.
“We work so well together,” Pollert said. “We have put a lot of practice in and showed that we are ready to be one of the top teams out there.”
Wilder-Newland said she is still trying to figure out positions for certain starters.
“We have some really good all-around players,” Wilder-Newland said. “I’ve been making little adjustments, and the girls are responding and performing well to them.”
Katie Mack, who had
17 kills and three aces said the team wants to show it is still a top-tier team after last year’s success.
“A lot of people wanted to count us out after we lost our seniors,” Mack said. “We know we just have to prove how good we are by how well we play.”
Cortney VanLiew led the Olympians with 24 kills while adding 18 digs. Courtney Williams had 20 digs and five aces, while Bailey Western had 16 kills and five blocks. “I love our team’s enthusiasm,” Wilder-Newland said. “When we get loud, stick together and support each other, that makes for a solid team.”