VERONA, NJ - The Verona Girls volleyball team is learning how to play with each other following a 2-0 loss to a familiar foe in Bogota on Thursday evening.
“We have to be better at defending on those outsides, other than that I thought we played good offensively, serve receive, our first contacts were pretty good, but at the end of the day they were able to get more points faster,” said Head Coach Ryan Brown.
Bogota dominated the first set from start to finish. An inexperienced Verona squad struggled with the powerful kills coming from the outside on Bogota’s line.
“[Bogota] is always a great team, this year they are a little different than they have been in years past. They’ve always been a good defensive team, but they’re really heavy on the outside,” said Brown.
While it was clear the Hillbillies were a bit overmatched due to the inexperience, the lessons and speed of the game is a major advantage for the squad. A lineup that possesses three underclassmen as starters were able to adjust to the play of a perennial powerhouse.
“We have work to do, we have some younger girls in the program who can aspire to get to [the level of Bogota],” said Brown.
Verona adjusted much better in the second game. Despite ultimately falling 25-16 the group played solid defense and connected on a number of key kills to keep the match within striking distance.
“We tried to switch things up, get our rotations matched up a little different with their blockers, but they’re so versatile it’s difficult,” said Brown.
The Hillbillies would receive a solid effort from freshman Patricia Rakova on the evening. Rakova notched four kills in the second game as she’s averaged six per match in her last three contests.
“[Rakova] has come a really long way, we really rely on her in a bunch of rotations,” said Brown.
Verona’s loss is their second in three games, which is unfamiliar territory for a program as successful as it has been the last three years. The squad has grown to be resilient this season with only one two-game losing streak in their 20 game span.
“We try to make it so that those losses are losses that happened, we try to move on so they don’t snowball into other potential bad losses,” said Brown.
The Hillbillies will look to grow from this loss into the future with the big county and state tournaments looming.
“We’re looking to the county tournament right now, if we can do well against some of the teams in our county we will set ourselves up for a decent run in counties and states,” said Brown.
The Hillbillies who are now 14-6 on the season have drawn the No. 4 seed in the Essex County Tournament. They will host the winner of the Science Park or Newark Tech and Columbia match.
“We’re a young team, we’re learning a lot about each other…this year is a whole new team and the chemistry isn’t there yet…we’ve taken really good strides from the beginning of the season to where we are now,” said Brown.
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