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When coach Lindsay Burcham looks at her Mooseheart volleyball team, she knows that the group that’s on the court in August will improve and be much better by the time the season ends in October.
She also knows that as her team improves, other teams that are further along their pathway of progression will make some matches difficult for the Ramblers.
That was the case on Thursday, when Mooseheart showed flashes of the sort of play that will become commonplace through the season – but Earlville played a more complete match and won 25-17, 25-9.
“The girls are talented, they really are. They’re coming together and we’re working right now on trusting each other on the court. I think we have a pretty good season ahead of us and I think you’ll see some good outcomes,” Burcham said.
While the Ramblers have plenty of experienced players returning, there is also room on the roster for freshman Dove Soko, who is the younger sister of junior Mai Soko.
Other experienced Ramblers include seniors Doyin Akeju, Hertasia Cunningham, Vero Paye, Sianne Segbee. The other Ramblers: Melany Delgado. Faith Diahn and Peterrene Mator, are juniors.
“The girls who have come back are really great leaders,” Burcham said. “They’re helping Dove out and teaching her as they go. All I can ask for is hard work and for them to help each other.”
As far as hard work, if getting onto the floor to keep the ball from hitting counts – this team is one of the hardest-working in recent years. The Ramblers moved time and again to dive and keep balls alive by “digging” the ball out of the air and moving it across the net.
“Right now, I’m looking for the girls to hustle,” Burcham said. “They showed they weren’t afraid to hit the floor. Of course, winning is nice, but the teamwork and hustle are things I want to see.”
As an example to the Ramblers commitment to hard work, libero Melany Delgado is looking to reach 400 digs this fall, up from 400 as a sophomore. She opened with 35 digs in the team’s season-opener at Indian Creek. Though totals weren’t available on Thursday, Delgado threw herself to the floor repeatedly to try to get a hand to the ball before it hit the floor.
“This game was a little rougher for her, but she’s been all over the place. I expect to see really good things from her this year,” Burcham said.
Earlville presented a pair of challenges to Mooseheart. First, they were a taller team and second, they showed more cohesion on-court in the early stages, and that continued as they grabbed a firmer grip on the match.
“They kind of got into our girls’ heads,” Burcham said. “We made a few mistakes and then they let that take over. We’re trying to get to a point to where we forget about those mistakes and get back to playing our game.”
Mooseheart travels to Walther Christian on Friday for a 6 p.m. contest and returns home on Sept. 5 for a 6 p.m. match with Schaumburg Christian.