Time (out) to shine -- Kairos Alpha takes a moment or two before storming to 15 Elite title at Colorado Challenge
by Kyle Koso
Make the most of your time – that’s advice that never goes out of style.
Make the most of your timeouts – pretty wise strategy in volleyball as well.
For the Kairos 15 Alpha, slow starts threatened to stall the South Dakota team in the 15 Elite championship match at the Colorado Challenge on Monday, but head coach Max Curran pulled his troops aside in Sets 1 and 2 and got them pulling together in the right direction. Kairos proceeded with clarity and pocketed the title, moving past NORCO 15 Black 25-21, 25-13 as Kairos won three of the five Elite brackets at the tournament, produced by Triple Crown Sports and Colorado Juniors VBC.
The 15’s fell behind NORCO 7-3 in Set 1 after an ace from Katie St. Jean, but pulled ahead after a timeout and kept it close until Ruthie Robinson went wild in the final stretches with blocks and kills that sealed the set. And in Set 2, Kairos fell behind 8-3 before finding its rhythm again, with great serves and timely hits from Katie McKay making all the difference at the finish line.
“We have a bit of a bad habit, starting slow and waiting to turn things on. We talked about what we’ve trained for in practice and to work hard,” Curran said. “Getting the serves in was another big part of it.
“(Robinson) is a big-time player who loves the big moments. We knew she could block like that, we just hadn’t seen it yet. She came on strong, a phenomenal and special player.”
A big solo block by Robinson gave Kairos a 21-19 lead in Set 1; after an ace from teammate Ivy Freeseman, Robinson again handled a big block on her own to make it 23-21, and she capped the set with a huge kill after another ace, this time from Jersie Melcher.
“I want to do everything I can for my team to get the point; I work so hard on my blocking. It feels so good to get in someone’s face and block that ball,” Robinson said. “I’m used to getting (solo blocks); I’ve played with a setter who’s shorter than me, so I’m used to when it happens by myself. We had a lot of energy and adrenalin going through our brains all weekend, and we were excited to finish it off.”
Back-to-back kills from Maggie McGuire in Set 2 brought Kairos ahead 10-9, and there wasn’t much doubt in the result from there on out. Steering the ship with calm and confidence was setter Josalyn Samuels, who actually is an 8th-grader playing up with the 15’s. She has enough length to be very useful on defense at the net, and she always seemed to get the ball to her hitters with just the right angle and height.
“We had to refocus, on our passing so we could get the sets right and terminate the ball. Score more points off the things we can control,” Samuels said. “Being calm is something that is very important and I think about all the time. When my team sees me … if I’m freaking out, my team will be wondering what’s going to happen. If I’m calm, they’ll be relaxed and play better.
“Ruthie is super fun to play with; she had so much energy and can really hit the ball. It’s fun to set her and I’m very glad she’s on our team.”
“There are some great teams here; we saw them (Sunday) and today, and we always hoped to go maybe top two,” Curran said. “To win it was awesome, especially it being our first tournament of the year.”