BATAVIA – Batavia coach McKenna Kelsay could easily sympathize and identify with exactly what Madelyn Hooper was fighting through on the volleyball court last year.
It wasn’t all that long ago that Kelsay, a then-sophomore at the University of Illinois, was working through the “yips” while setting at the net herself.
“Last year was hard for her. … We kind of worked together in terms of the mental aspect of things and then, how can you focus on hitting?” Kelsay said after Batavia’s 25-19, 25-22 victory over Waubonsie Valley on Sept. 15 for the team’s second consecutive win.
“You might not be setting the best right now, but you can do something else for us. I think she worked really hard in club season to get those hands back, to feel comfortable and confident again, and she’s been setting really well.”
Hooper finished with four kills, while Amanda Otten had eight kills and three aces against Waubonsie Valley. In a two-set win over Lake Park on Sept. 14, Hooper shined with six kills and 10 assists.
Hooper, who’s been working on her technique at camps, club season and more, is back on track.
And perhaps an occasional Justin Bieber song also helped do the trick.
“Kelsay was really, really good at helping me just not focus on it,” Hooper said of setting. “We’d listen to songs and try and think about anything else other than setting.”
“Baby” by Bieber was atop the list of songs.
This season, Hooper is splitting time setting and at right side.
“This year, coming back from that [setting concerns], I’ve been feeling a lot stronger. It’s been super awesome,” Hooper said.
“Perseverance. It was really, really rough for me last year. I was still at hitter for Batavia and just [kept] continually working. A couple sets a day to try and come back helped me.”
Batavia (9-8) battled back from a tough start in set one against Waubonsie Valley. Down 6-0, the Bulldogs slowly came back, taking a 15-9 advantage that was powered by a combined effort from Otten, Claire Ellward and Teagan Rokos. Otten’s right arm power smash put the finishing touches on the 25-19 victory.
Waubonsie Valley (4-7) and Batavia traded leads throughout set two. With the Bulldogs at match point at 24-21, the Warriors were able to get a kill from Naomi Dowd, but a service error cut short the comeback attempt.
The Warriors were paced by Dowd’s seven kills. Alex Skurka had three kills and three blocks. Katie Godo had three aces.
“We’re trying to play with some different lineups just to see what works best for us,” Waubonsie Valley coach Kari Galen said. “We kind of went with the lineup that worked best for us last night against Hinsdale Central, so we started with that and made adjustments from there. We played really well last night; tonight we just struggled to make the adjustments we needed to win. So, that’s really what it boiled down to.
“Honestly, everyone on our team is pretty even as far as how they’re practicing and what we’re seeing on the court. That’s why we have the ability to try different lineups because it’s really pretty even across the board.”