MENDOTA — The Mendota volleyball team recently made some significant changes to its lineup.
Senior Elivia Ambler, who was in her fourth season starting at setter, moved to libero, while senior libero Madison Barkman switched to right back.
“I would have never thought I would have taken a four-year starting setter and put her in the libero spot,” MHS coach John Holzman said. “But we needed to make a change in the back row.”
Holzman also went to a 5-1 for the first time with junior Brooke Carroll handling all the setter duties.
“I’ve never done a 5-1 before,” Holzman said. “I’ve seen it. The continuity (of a 5-1), I’ve just never had that opportunity because I’ve had (Ambler) for four years and it’s kind of hard to run a 5-1 with a 6-2 setter.”
The moves paid off.
The new-look Spikers beat Rock Falls 25-19, 28-26 on Thursday in a Big Northern Conference West Division match.
“We changed up our rotation a lot,” Carroll said. “We changed up the back row, and that worked really well for us. Everyone’s in their new spots and we just put it together tonight.”
The victory improves the Spikers to 6-4 overall and 2-0 in the BNC West.
“It’s good,” Carroll said about winning the first two conference matches. “That was our plan. We really want to win the conference this year, and we have a really good group of girls who I think we can do it with.”
The revamped Spiker offense spread the ball around against the Rockets.
JoEllyn Parks led Mendota with eight kills, while Amy Devitt added six kills and Abby Bromenschenkel three kills. In all, MHS had 26 skills in the match.
“We have a lot of hitters this year and we’ve always been able to work really well together,” said Carroll, who finished with 23 assists. “Instead of one good player, we have six hitters we can always use.
“We really change it around a lot. If you’re hot, we keep going to you, but we’re usually really versatile. Everyone’s usually pretty on.”
The first set was close throughout until the Spikers took the lead for good at 15-14 on an ace by Carroll before extending their advantage.
The second set remained close throughout with Mendota rallying from down 24-22 to force extra points.
Mendota eventually ended the match on consecutive kills by Devitt and Ally Bromenschenkel.
“It was nerve-wracking, but we stayed relaxed as much as we could and we had the momentum on our side, I think,” Carroll said. “We kept pumped up and we put the ball down.
“It was awesome (to pull out the second set). It was a close serve (on the final point). We almost won it there, but they got it up. I think everyone was determined enough to get the pass up, then I had the set. We knew everyone could put it down.”
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.