DANVILLE — The white volleyball hung in the air for the briefest of seconds as Schlarman Academy junior Laura Gross saw her opportunity to pounce.
Eyeing her prey, Gross sprang from the hardwood floor and swung her hand toward the spheroid like the arm of a turbo charged windmill, smacking the ball toward the out-of-bounds line with precision of a laser-guided cruise missile.
The ball sailed untouched past the Oakwood defense and smacked the ground just inches inside the line, prompting a choreographed “ohh, kill em!” cheer from the Topless Toppers, Schlarman’s student section.
The play was a summation of Schlarman’s senior night as the Toppers dispatched of the Comets in two games 25-4, 25-10.
Gross had 11 kills with three assists, Janelle Marion had nine kills and nine assists and Jordan Marganski had 14 assists and four kills.
While the first game of the night saw few hiccups for the Toppers – Schlarman started the game on a 6-0 run and finished with a 9-2 run – they found themselves down early in the second game when Oakwood sprang out of the gates with a 4-1 lead. A phenomenon that Oakwood head coach Lynn Anderson attributes to Schlarman slip-ups.
“I think they changed,” Anderson said. “They made mistakes in that second game that they didn’t make in the first game. They hit it in the net and one went way out.
“Did we play better? Yes, we did. I mean we stepped it up. I just think we got points due to their mistakes, and I highly respect that team. When I say they made some mistakes they didn’t make (in the first game,) that is a compliment to them.”
Anderson’s assessment of the Toppers second game start was echoed by Schlarman head coach Heidi Crane.
Crane’s squad will head to Quincy today for an invitational that features schools in classes up to 4A in preparation for Monday’s regional tournament. And Crane knows that a sloppy second game start could be the team’s Achilles heel come the postseason.