KIRKLAND – Dani Clark paused for a second when thinking about Hiawatha’s 2011 win total.
“I think four,” the Hiawatha senior said.
The Hawks already have come a long way from last year, and it’s understandable that Clark couldn’t immediately remember Hiawatha’s record last season.
Monday night, the Hawks surpassed four wins with a 25-27, 25-22, 25-20 victory over Christian Liberty (4-4). The victory improves Hiawatha’s record to 5-6. Clark had 30 digs and added 13 kills, three aces and nine blocks. Savanna Campbell had 18 assists for the Hawks.
Hiawatha led the Chargers, 24-13, in Game 3 and held off a late rally.
So far in 2012, first-year coach Jenna Araujo has seen her team grow and get to know each other while improving its communication.
“Right now, communication has been huge. We started out not talking very well, and now that they’re reading each other and getting to know each other a little bit better on the court, it’s making a huge difference,” Araujo said. “Just coming together and, again, trying to make those connections.”
This season also is Araujo’s first coaching volleyball. She played three years at Burlington Central and got back into the swing of things this summer, although she admits she’s had to do her research.
Not only has the team’s communication on the court improved as the season has went on, but so has the players’ communication with their coach.
“These girls have been a phenomenal group to work with, and they’re really kind of showing me what I need to work with as far as how to communicate with them, what works well as far as how to reach these girls, and I’m learning what works well that way, as well,” Araujo said. “So the communication, I would say, not just for them but for coach-to-player as well, has been definitely something that’s growing.”
Clark said one thing Hiawatha has picked up from Araujo in her initial season has been defense. The team’s skills have improved, and Clark noted the Hawks are moving, reading and reacting to the ball more.
Hiawatha is getting under the ball, instead of being stationary when the other team is on the attack.
“We changed our defense; it works really good,” Clark said. “We’ve got a lot of coverage this year. We improved a lot since last year, skills and everything.”
The Hawks travel for a 4:30 p.m. game today at Westminster Christian.