From start to finish

LaBrae routs JFK to begin year

Tribune Chronicle / Marc Weems The LaBrae Vikings volleyball team celebrates a point during their three-set victory over John F. Kennedy on Tuesday in Warren. It was the season opener for the Vikings, who could be poised for a big year.

WARREN — In a non-conference matchup in volleyball, LaBrae defeated John F. Kennedy in three sets, 25-6, 25-10, 25-16, to win the match.

It was apparent from the start that the LaBrae Vikings (1-0) were the better team. It wasn’t for a lack of effort on the Eagles (0-3) part.

LaBrae got out to a 7-0 lead and then a 14-0 advantage before JFK got its first point. LaBrae wouldn’t relent as it won the first set, 25-6. For coach Heather Sankey, it was about establishing the Vikings play early.

“I preach to the kids all the time that we want to play our game,” Sankey said. “We want to carry that into each game. Our season is pretty long and we play a lot of games during the week. It’s important to keep that intensity game after game and week after week.”

The second set was much more competitive, regardless of the score. JFK got its first point at 3-1. The Eagles were tied at seven before LaBrae went on a 10-1 run to cause a JFK timeout, down 18-8. The Vikings went on to win the set 25-10. Kennedy coach Sam Young was impressed with his team’s determination.

Tribune Chronicle / Marc Weems John F. Kennedy’s Chloe Coates, right, returns the ball while Jasmyne Whitman looks on during their game against LaBrae on Tuesday.

“It’s good,” Young said. “When we have practices, sometimes we are working on things and they don’t work. To see them come all together when they have practice and games, it’s satisfying. To hear them communicating and see them improving every game is all we can ask for.”

With mostly freshmen and sophomores starting and playing, Young knows the season will be a learning experience. JFK lost two matches previously with defeats to Villa Angela-St. Joseph and Cleveland Central Catholic, two North Coast League opponents.

The Eagles do seem to be getting better because the third set was even more competitive.

JFK stayed close and were within 7-5 before the Vikings put together a quick 7-2 run. That caused a Kennedy timeout. LaBrae kept its distance down the stretch as it won, 25-16, to take the match.

“Our team chemistry has been the best that it has ever been. My seniors have really showed their leadership,” Sankey said. “The kids are really understanding the scenario of the game. We worked really hard on what the other team is doing that we should be doing. It’s nice to see that the things we’ve worked on are working.”