INDIANAPOLIS -- Tuesday night was not a good measuring post for the progress North Putnam volleyball has made this year. Without a coach for much of camp, the Cougars (6-15) rallied behind new coach Jill Schreiber, making strides during the season, especially in the passing game.
"At the beginning of the season I walked in and looked at this team and they could not pass. We worked all year on passing. Every drill dealt with passing and we've improved so much," Schreiber said.
"Tonight, I don't feel like we proved to ourselves and others that we could pass and we could have beaten this Tri-West team," she added. "It was just like we came in intimidated and didn't play to our ability."
The Cougars started out playing with the Bruins, battling them to a 7-7 tie in the early going. However, they couldn't withstand a couple of long runs by the Bruins. Cynthia Bondy ran off seven in a row to make it 21-11. Jessica Jensen later ran off three straight to close the game out at 25-12.
Games two and three followed the pattern set in the latter part of game one. The Bruins built 6-1 leads in each game and then slowly extended them. North could get side outs here and there, but couldn't mount any strong runs.
The Bruins closed out games two and three at identical scores to the first, 25-12.
Tri-West advances to Saturday's semifinal against Speedway at 11 a.m. The Sparkplugs defeated Covenant Christian in game two, 25-9, 25-20, 28-26.
Schreiber may have been unhappy with Tuesday's performance, but she could not criticize what she's seen from the team on the year.
"I was kind of disappointed, but, again, I've had a blast with these girls," Schreiber said. "It was hard for them for a new coach to come in and say, 'We're not doing this any more; we're doing this.' We changed their offense, changed their defense, and they reacted to me very well.
"I didn't really have any problems this year with personality differences or anything like that. They've been a great group to work with," she added. "We're going to work a lot this summer, and hopefully I'll be there next year with them."
Now Schreiber is simply looking forward to the chance to work with her underclassmen more. She sees good things from them and wants to continue the progress.
"The more experience we get and the more we play, the more I think that will help us. We'll be so much better with the communication and stuff like that," Schreiber said. "They really are a good group. They are athletic. It's just about fine tuning those skills."
The key is continuity. The coach wants to be back to give the girls another year in her system.
"I think having four different coaches in four different years is tough on people. If there is a chance for me to come back next year, I think that will help with that confidence and not feeling like they have been abandoned," she said. "I think that will help a lot in the way they hold themselves and the way they play."
However, Tuesday was the end of the line for seniors Logan Doyle, Taylor Alles and Casey Preecs. Schreiber was nothing but complimentary of this trio.
"I couldn't ask for a better group of seniors," Schreiber said. "No one really took that role of, 'I'm a senior. You're doing this my way.' They were all very helpful to one another and the team.
"Logan Doyle was our best passer by far. She's a great, great girl. We'll really miss her in the passing aspect next year," she added. "Taylor Alles is a great hitter. We'll definitely miss that hard hit, long arms and just being there to get the ball. Casey Preecs would come in and hit the ball for us and hit it hard. She gets a good set and she just would hit hard. Times when I needed her to step up and play, she did. I couldn't ask for more from her.
"I was pretty proud to call all three of them my seniors," she concluded.
At Covenant Christian
Volleyball Sectional # 46
North Putnam 12 12 12
Tri-West 25 25 25
Points -- McGaughey 3, Gray 2, Doyle 2, Stephenson 1 (NP), Bondy 15, Ricks 10, Jansen 7, Anderson 7, Buckner 3, Roseboom 3 (TW)
Aces -- McGaughey 2, Doyle 1 (NP), Bondy 7, Buckner 2, Jansen 1, Ricks 1, Anderson 1, Roseboom 1 (TW)
Kills -- Doyle 4, McGaughey 3, Alles 2, Robinson 2 (NP), Cook 8, Jansen 8, Bondy 1 (TW)
Assists -- Gray 8 (NP), Ricks 13, Hughes 1 (TW)
North Putnam finishes the season 6-15.