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Wesleyan hammers Spencer to advance in playoffs

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Wesleyan Hannah Hoskin (10) attacks the ball against Spencer during the second round of Class AA high school state volleyball playoffs at Wesleyan School in Norcross on Tuesday. Wesleyan swept Spencer 3 games to 0.

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Wesleyan Hannah Hoskin (10) attacks the ball against Spencer during the second round of Class AA high school state volleyball playoffs at Wesleyan School in Norcross on Tuesday. Wesleyan swept Spencer 3 games to 0.

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Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Wesleyan Ashley Moody (2) celebrates with teammate Katie Van Laeke (3) after scoring a point against Spencer during the second round of Class AA high school state volleyball playoffs at Wesleyan School in Norcross on Tuesday. Wesleyan swept Spencer 3 games to 0.

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Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Wesleyan Nikki McDonald (12) awaits her hit as teammate Katie Van Laeke (3) looks on against Spencer during the second round of Class AA high school state volleyball playoffs at Wesleyan School in Norcross on Tuesday. Wesleyan swept Spencer 3 games to 0.

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Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Wesleyan Kendra Koetter (7) sets the ball for a teammate against Spencer during the second round of Class AA high school state volleyball playoffs at Wesleyan School in Norcross on Tuesday. Wesleyan swept Spencer 3 games to 0.

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Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Wesleyan Hannah Hoskin (10) celebrates a point with her teammate Lauren Frerking (4) against Spencer during the second round of Class AA high school state volleyball playoffs at Wesleyan School in Norcross on Tuesday. Wesleyan swept Spencer 3 games to 0.

NORCROSS -- Wesleyan came into Tuesday's volleyball matchup hot off an area title and 3-0 first-round win over Coosa. Spencer was making its first-ever trip to the second round of the playoffs.

The Wolves' experience and skill showed from the outset as they handily defeated the Greenwave 25-5, 25-4, 25-9.

The outcome was never really in doubt before the game, which allowed Wesleyan coach Ted Russell to add a few goals aside from just winning.

"One of our most important things was for them to make first contact," he said. "We felt like if we could keep the ball in play, we had a chance of winning it almost every rally."

Wesleyan was mostly able to do that, but Spencer was able to sneak a few points in, including a nice kill by Lavon Pridgett in the second game. But most of the points the Wolves allowed came on errors.

Russell said focus on serves was one of his pre-game concentrations.

"One of the goals I gave the girls was to make sure that they were putting the ball in play, particularly with their serve," Russell said. "We were trying to work on our free ball efficiency and trying to spread the ball around, running some quicker options that the free balls would give us an opportunity to do."

Spencer came out of the gates and was able to get the first point for a quick 1-0 lead. That didn't last long as Wesleyan scored three straight and then rolled off 10 in a row and nine in a row in the first game. Hannah Hoskin (two aces, six kills, one assist, three digs) scored a kill on the 24th point, and the Wolves finished it off on the next one for a 25-4 win.

Kendra Koetter lit up the stat sheet for the Wolves all night, leading the team with seven kills and 30 assists plus four aces and two digs. Emma Bivings led in aces with seven and also had four kills and three digs.

Game 2 went mostly the same as the first, except the Wolves didn't allow Spencer to take an early lead. They battled to an 11-1 lead after a kill from Anna Davis (one kill, one ace) and aces from Hoskin and Bivings. Aside from the one point by Pridgett, only service errors got Spencer on the board in the second game. Hoskin put away a couple of points after Spencer scored to make it 21-4, and Wesleyan finished off the final four to win 25-4.

Spencer was able to put a few more points on the board in the final game, including the first one again, but the Greenwave never looked able to put up much of a fight or string any points together.

Bivings and Nikki McDonald (four kills) recorded early kills in the final game, and McDonald and Katie Van Laeke (six kills, one assists, one dig, one block) finished off the contest with a pair of kills each in the final four points to move the Wolves to the next round.

"I think we played really well and handled a lot of different balls from looking at different teams," Van Laeke said.

Russell said another issue he was able to work on was getting his girls experience in another best-of-five matchup instead of the usual best-of-three matches in the regular season. Wesleyan seemed to struggle more in the third game, but the girls still played well enough to make it an easy win.

"It's definitely hard having to keep your momentum going through three games," Van Laeke said, "especially when you're a lot stronger than some of the other teams. ... I think (this contest) made us focus and made us keep pushing through games, and I'm looking forward to the next round."