Tuscarora junior Arianna Davey’s hits at the net weren’t the hardest ones delivered during Tuesday’s volleyball match.
They didn’t need to be.
Using her height and long arms, the 6-foot middle hitter was able to deliver downward strikes that eluded blockers and produced points.
“That’s something I’ve been working on,” she said.
Honing such a specialized skill indicates just how far Davey has come since joining the Titans as a freshman novice who didn’t even know how to hit, serve or pass.
She’s now one of the many weapons the stacked Titans possess, as she showed by finishing with seven kills and a team-high seven blocks in Tuscarora’s 25-11, 25-23, 25-19 win over visiting Linganore on Tuesday.
No doubt, Tuscarora’s opponents must find some way to cope with senior star Julia Slivka, who enjoyed another in a string of big games on Tuesday by finishing with 17 kills, 10 digs and four aces.
But what’s made the 5-1 Titans such a handful is their ability to get meaningful production from a slew of others like Davey, who had a lot to learn when she showed up at Tuscarora as a freshman.
“I didn’t know how to do anything, but they took me because I was tall,” she said. “I couldn’t serve, I couldn’t pass, I couldn’t hit. I really couldn’t do anything. but I had a goal and I kept working on it and I stay determined and I’ve gotten better over time.”
She feels like she made a good connection with the team.
“When I was new and I didn’t know anything, they took me in,” she said.
When Davey got kills on Tuesday, she often raised her right hand triumphantly, a fitting pose for someone who’s arm length is essential when she hits.
“You notice her arm,” said Titans coach Ricardo Vera, raising his arm as he spoke. “She doesn’t hit hard, but it’s so high, there’s no block. That’s her advantage, she goes over the block.”
Others have trouble returning the favor. When Davey lurks near the net on defense, opposing hitters need to be wary.
“They were all over us blocking-wise,” Lancers coach Andrea Poffinberger said.
Vera said Davey continues to get better, and the Titans have another tall player, freshman Christina Lockett, with potential.
“She’s awesome,” Davey said of Lockett.
“With time, she’s going to get her arm swing down, and she’s going to be a beast,” Titans junior libero Justine Winkler said.
Winkler cited such height as one of Tuscarora’s strengths. But serving is another major asset, and Winkler has a lot do with that.
She tied Slivka with a team-high four aces on Tuesday.
“I didn’t have a jump serve at the beginning of last year, so I really worked on it this summer,” Winkler said. “I went to a lot of camps, and I just tried to get my arm swing as far as I could and jump as high as I can.”
Winkler served on the first eight points of the third set, a streak that ended when her dive failed to get a dig, prompting her to lay on her stomach before teammates came over to help her up.
“I’m like, ‘Oh shoot, I could’ve gotten that,’” she said.
She still finished with eight digs.
“Her serves were amazing, and she’s a strong back row as a hitter, too. She sets beautifully,” Vera said, pointing out that Winkler is a junior, like Davey. “So they’re both coming back next year, which is nice to see.”
One player who won’t be coming back is Slivka, and she the Titans will miss her. She was pounding kills, among other things, throughout Tuesday’s match.
“Julia’s serves are incredible,” Vera said. “And her hitting, she’s getting close to getting to the school record.”
Katie Paredes had 34 assists and 12 digs for Tuscarora. Tiffany Shell had five kills and eight digs. Anjoli O’Brien had six kills.
The Lancers (4-3) took a 7-3 lead in the second set before the Titans stormed back. Audrey Kilgore had nine kills and six digs for Linganore. Julia Gladhill had 16 digs and five aces, Ella McCaffrey had five kills, Amanda Cook had 13 assists, and Ashly Ratti had four aces.