DeKALB – After waiting longer than most teams to start its season, the DeKalb volleyball team came out Tuesday evening excited to get going.
It resulted in a convincing 25-8, 25-17 win for the Barbs (1-0) over Harvest Christian (0-2) in DeKalb. The Barbs had been practicing for quite awhile, but coach Ben Fisher was happy to finally have a match.
“It was nice to come out and play well,” he said. “I think that they were a little bit nervous at the beginning, but I thought that they relaxed pretty easily. We were just excited to play someone other than ourselves.”
Fisher’s team didn’t come out like a group playing its first match. Senior setter Madison Lord had three consecutive aces to open the first set, and the Barbs proved to overmatch the Lions, a team that competes in 1A. They raced to a 15-2 lead and didn’t let up.
Lord said that communication is key, and that was an area where DeKalb excelled.
“When we talk, good things happen,” she said, “and good things did happen for our first match.”
For Fisher, the communication is a major improvement from this past season. The Barbs went 29-9 and won a regional title, but they weren’t as passionate as he would’ve liked. So far, this team has proved to be different.
“I just liked that we were into the match,” Fisher said. “Last year, we were a team that didn’t get into the match as much emotionally, and I was happy that we were excited to play.”
But after the first set, Harvest Christian came out with intensity as well. The Lions got out to a 3-0 lead and challenged DeKalb, but the Barbs eventually took control with the help of five second-set kills from senior middle blocker Courtney Wagner. Her final spike put Harvest Christian away for good and clinched the win.
Wagner was second only to senior outside hitter Alexis Hammond in kills. Lord led the way in assists while junior libero Nicole Schladt was tops in digs.
Fisher said he already sees improvements in team chemistry that could be crucial to taking the next step.
“I think that there is a lot less selfishness on the team this year already, even after just one match, then there was probably all season last year,” he said. “We’re definitely starting to come together, but we’ve still got a long way to go.”
The next challenge will be this Saturday, when DeKalb heads to Geneva for an invitational tournament. The Barbs will play in a 3-team pool and then advance to the single-elimination bracket.
This game was vital for Fisher’s team to get prepared for that tournament and beyond. After taking out the Lions, Fisher is happy with what he saw, but he’s already looking ahead.
“We weren’t really sure what we were going to look like when we played somebody else, so this definitely gives us some confidence moving forward,” Fisher said. “It just kind of settled us in. Now, we’re playing volleyball.”