Girls Volleyball: Olivia Kofie backs Larkin’s fast start
By Gene Chamberlain For Sun-Times Media August 30, 2012 9:02PM
Updated: November 30, 2012 11:34AM
At 6-foot-2, Larkin’s Olivia Kofie had played near the net as a freshman and sophomore but she knew there was more out there for her on a volleyball court.
So the Western Michigan recruit convinced new Royals coach Henry Graack to let her play back row, as well, and it’s been a big factor in Larkin starting 3-0, including Thursday’s non-conference 25-15, 18-15, 25-20 road victory over Bartlett.
“Since I’ve gotten to play in the back row, I’m definitely a lot more focused on everything because you’re moving around a lot and getting to a spot,” Kofie said.
It showed up in her final stats Thursday, as well. Besides a match-high 14 kills and four blocks, she also came up with nine digs.
“She always wants to go in the back row and play defense,” Graack said. “She’ll ask me, ‘instead of blocking, can I go back and pass?’ Anyone that interested in passing when they’re that good playing offense, then I’m all for it. I tried it out and she’s been awesome back there.”
In the clutch, it was Kofie and teammates Brianna Stewart and Amelia Gill producing in the final set. Kofie had four kills in her team’s first 12 points, but the scrappy Hawks still led 13-12. Then Stewart had four kills during a 10-3 run that gave Larkin a 21-16 lead. Kofie’s block kill made it 23-19 and Gill, who had three of her six aces, made an over the shoulder saving return from the back line that hugged and rolled on top the net before landing for match point.
“We’re still working out the kinks since it’s only our third match,” Graack said. “We persisted and pulled it out. It was an ugly win, but a win and we’ll move on.”
Bartlett (0-5) has played a torturous schedule, facing Jacobs, Crystal Lake South, St. Charles North and Hoffman Estates in addition to Larkin. The Hawks were able to turn around the match in the second set thanks largely to high-energy reserve Haley Hasenstein. She finished the match with five kills and two blocks. Rachel Hartford had three kills and eight digs, while Cara Carrion had 10 digs.
“We’re definitely not a tall team, so this was a difficult matchup with their height,” new Bartlett coach Michele Bickus said. “We’ve been working a lot on defense in practice to make up for it, on blocking and reading the ball, and it’s helping.
“Rachel, I had her on JV last year and she didn’t play much back row but when I watch her now, she’s just everywhere on the court.”