Kiki

Venice (5-3) dropped both of its games this week, as its still learning how to finish its hot starts. 

Overcoming youth and inexperience won’t happen overnight for the Venice volleyball team, and it learned that lesson again on Thursday night at the TeePee at the hands of Hoover (AL).

Despite taking the first set in commanding fashion, the Lady Indians couldn’t contain the hitting of the Buccaneers, dropping the next three sets for a 3-1 loss (25-15, 21-25, 23-25, 18-25) to drop them to 5-3 on the year.

“We had a repeat of Tuesday night,” Venice coach Brian Wheatley said. “We were in control of the match. Game 2 we were up 21-15 and we had a couple of really dumb, non-disciplined errors and we let them back in it. And then we were up again in Game 3 and the exact same thing happened.”

Like in its loss to Riverview on Tuesday, the Lady Indians took an early lead before letting the match slip away late.

Venice got out to a hot start behind the hitting of Amanda Wesolich (team-high 17 kills), who had a 7-kill first set.

Maylee Lanham added three aces, and a couple of kills by Sadie Kluner (12 kills) helped the Indians pull away to take the first set by 10 points.

Again in the second and third sets, the Indians took an early lead — even getting up 17-12 and 12-3 at points in the second and third sets, respectively.

However, the hitting and blocking of Hoover — coupled with a few Venice mistakes — allowed the Buccaneers to close out both close sets to take their first lead.

With momentum in its favor, Hoover led for the majority of the fourth set as it closed out the match for its first win over Venice.

Though Hoover had a size advantage over Venice, the Indians’ serves caught the Buccaneers a little off-balance at times. It helped keep Venice in the match as it rotated in a series of players, trying to find something that worked.

“The way (Wheatley) coaches, he forces my girls to do things they’re not used to doing,” Hoover coach Chris Camper said. “He did a great job of strategizing to take my outside out of it. It really changed what we were doing.

“They served us out of it. Sadie almost beat us by herself, and that’s how good she is. She is really impressive. Our girls knew coming in she was a beast. That last run when she was back there serving, she almost served us out of it. I think that was the biggest thing.”

Venice will keep working toward finishing out its matches this weekend as it hosts the fifth annual Battle at the Beach tournament, beginning at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, and again at 8 a.m. on Saturday.

“Somehow we need to figure it out,” Wheatley said. “We had some lineup changes tonight, but we’re not playing with the heart and desire that we need to in order to be successful in a high-level varsity matchup.”

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