Girls volleyball: Hooper finds her groove, leads Batavia past Waubonsie Valley

 
 
Updated 9/15/2022 9:45 PM

Batavia coach McKenna Kelsay could easily sympathize and identify with exactly what Madelyn Hooper was fighting through on the volleyball court last year.

It wasn't all that long ago that Kelsay, as a then-sophomore player at the University of Illinois, was working through the 'yips' while setting at the net herself.

 

"Last year was hard for her ... we kind of worked together in terms of the mental aspect of things and then, how can you focus on hitting?" Kelsay said following Batavia's 25-19, 25-22 victory over Waubonsie Valley on Thursday for the team's second consecutive win.

"'You might not be setting the best right now, but you can do something else for us.' I think she worked really hard in club season to get those hands back; to feel comfortable and confident again and she's been setting really well."

On Thursday, Hooper finished with four kills, while Amanda Otten had eight kills and three aces. The game prior last Wednesday in a two-set win over Lake Park, Hooper again shined with six kills and 10 assists to round out a successful week.

"There's a lot of things that I feel I went through as a player that really help me as a coach," Kelsay said.

Hooper, through working on her technique and reps at camps, club season and more, is now back on track.

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Perhaps, also, an occasional Justin Bieber song can help do the trick, too.

"Kelsay was really, really good at helping me just not focus on it," Hooper said. "We'd listen to songs and try and think about anything else other than setting."

'Baby' by Bieber was atop the list.

" ... This year, coming back from that, I've been feeling a lot stronger; it's been super awesome," said Hooper, who splits time setting and at right side.

"Perseverance. It was really, really rough for me last year. I was still at hitter for Batavia and just [kept] continually working. A couple sets a day to try and come back helped me."

Batavia (9-8) battled back from a tough start in set one down 6-0 to slowly overcome that and jump to an eventual 15-9 advantage powered by a combined effort from Otten, Claire Ellward and Teagan Rokos. Otten's right arm power smash put the finishing touches on the eventual 25-19 victory.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Waubonsie Valley (4-7) and Batavia traded leads all throughout set two. With the Bulldogs threatening at match point 24-21, the Warriors were able to get one more kill from Naomi Dowd, but an ensuing service error cut short the comeback attempt.

The Warriors were paced by Dowd's seven kills. Alex Skurka had three kills and three blocks. Katie Godo had three aces.

"We're trying to play with some different lineups just to see what works best for us," Waubonsie Valley coach Kari Galen said. "We kind of went with the lineup that worked best for us last night against Hinsdale Central, so started with that and made adjustments from there. We played really well last night; tonight we just struggled to make the adjustments we needed to win. So, that's really what it boiled down to.

"Honestly, everyone on our team is pretty even as far as how they're practicing and what we're seeing on the court. That's why we have the ability to try different lineups because it's really pretty even across the board."

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