Nicole Schmitz was all over the court for the Oakes Tornadoes on Thursday night in LaMoure.
The senior outside hitter led the Oakes volleyball team to a three-set sweep (25-20, 25-22, 25-19) over LaMoure/Litchville-Marion in totaling 11 kills at the net and helping out the defense with 10 digs. Schmitz was also Oakes' serving leader, recording six aces.
Oakes head coach Shari Christenson said she was impressed, but not surprised, by the performance and leadership displayed by the returning Class B all-state hitter on the court. Oakes, the defending champion of Region 3 volleyball, have yet to lose a set in 2019 and are now 9-0 overall.
"The kid is a phenomenal athlete and she's a competitor," Christenson said. "The fun stuff is when she hits the ball at the 10-foot line, obviously, but we've been working on that topspin serve so she allowed us to go on a bunch of runs today because of that serve.
"I'm impressed with her serving. I am also impressed by her leadership," Christenson continued. "We had a little injury in the first set to one of our key girls and Nicole kind of stepped up and became a huge vocal leader in that so she did a great job."
The Tornadoes took the first set 25-20 thanks to Schmitz's swings at the net, setter Sadie Hansen's assists and digs by libero Claire Wagner. Consistent swings from Schmitz and middle Shayla Novak made it tough for the Loboes to defend, but LLM accepted the challenge and fought for each of its points.
Ellie Holen led LLM at the net with 10 kills, while Ashlyn Rode added another seven to the board. Holen also helped libero Rain Aberle in the back row with nine digs. Lamoure/Litchville-Marion coach Karyn Holen said she was impressed by her team's offense and aggressive net play, but acknowledged the defense -- anchored by Aberle with 10 digs -- could be improved.
"We didn't take care of the first ball contact very well at all, and you can't run your offense if you can't make a good pass," Holen said. "We've been focusing on our net play to be more aggressive and I was happy with a lot of the moments we had there, and I felt like we were in it each set. But we just made too many mistakes. We'll get there."
Aberle and Holen worked to keep the ball off the ground in set two, while hitters Ryleigh Podoll and Ashlyn Rode tried to keep Schmitz's and middle hitter Shayla Novak's kills on the other side of the net. Rode and Podoll recorded three blocks and nine kills, but unfortunately for LLM the Tornado offense -- led by Schmitz and six kills from Novak -- claimed set two 25-22.
Schmitz started set three the same way she ended sets one and two -- at the net. But it was a fight from the beginning as LLM claimed an early 6-3 lead. A pair of strong serves from Schmitz would put the Tornadoes within one of the Loboes and a deep push tied set No. 3 6-6. It was the blocks and kills from Rode and Podoll that kept LLM in the game until match point, when the Tornadoes' Abby Cox sent a ball down the line claiming the last set 25-19.
"LaMoure is a heck of a team and they played well," Christenson said. “They played some great defense on us so it took us more shots than usual, but the girls responded and just changed up some of the shots and ran some other options. We had some girls who really stepped up tonight who last week haven’t been huge offensive options."
Both Oakes and LaMoure/Litchville-Marion will head to the Volley in the Valley tournament in Central Cass this Saturday. Tournament play is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m.
Oakes 3, LaMoure/Litchville-Marion 0
Oakes 25 25 25
L/L-M 17 22 19
Oakes: Kills: Nicole Schmitz 11, Abby Cox 6, Shayla Novak 6. Assists: Sadie Hansen 25. Digs: Schmitz 10, Hansen 7. Aces: Schmitz 6.
L/L-M: Kills: Ellie Holen 10, Ashlyn Rode 7. Assists: Allie Hebl 17 Digs: Rain Aberle 10, Holen 9. Blocks: Ryleigh Podoll 2.
Records: Oakes 9-0, 1-0 L/L-M 4-3, 0-1