Angelo State University volleyball coach Chuck Waddington knows a lot more about his No. 9-ranked Rambelles team than he did heading into the weekend at the season-opening 2017 Kathleen Brasfield Angelo State Invitational at the Junell Center.
The Belles (4-0) came away unscathed after winning matches against Limestone and Colorado Christian on Friday, followed by victories over Colorado Christian again and a nightcap over New Mexico Highlands on Saturday.
ASU wrapped up tourney play with a methodical 25-14, 25-18, 25-23 sweep over New Mexico Highlands on Saturday.
Waddington gave his squad a very good grade for the home invitational that is named after the longtime ASU volleyball coach and athletic director.
"I like our balance on offense," Waddington said. "We're using a lot of hitters and we're a lot less predictable. One person isn't carrying the load for us. We kind of move it around and the players who are scoring for us are scoring pretty efficiently. So I like that for sure."
Sophomore right side Sundara Chinn had a match-high 11 kills and senior outside hitter Bri Sotello had 10. Sophomore setter Meghan Parker had a match-high 28 assists and junior libero/defensive specialist Michaela Sifuentes recorded 21 digs.
New Mexico Highland was looking like it might force a fourth set, but ASU held on to sweep all four matches in three sets.
"Highland's probably the toughest serving team we've seen all weekend," the Belles coach said. "They put a lot of pressure on us with their serves and I thought we handled that pretty well and gave ourselves some pretty good options."A lot of credit goes to 'Micki' Sifentes. She was everywhere on the floor for us tonight. I really like what she's doing. She's improved so much from last year to this year and she has that libero mind-set now, which is what we've been trying to get from her for a couple of years. She looked good for us."
The junior from Floresville said the tourney was a good early measuring stick for ASU.
"For the first two days of our actual season, they went pretty well," Sifuentes said. "We have stuff to work on definitely, of course, and this tournament helped us see where we need to get work done."
The Belles finished 34-4 in 2016 and made program history with their first trip to the NCAA D-II Elite Eight in the 40th year of volleyball at ASU.
There are a lot of new faces on the 2017 squad, but Waddington feels confident about his team's capabilities.
"It's exciting," Waddington said. "I think we've got a good group and I think we can make another good run, but we a lot of areas we've got to improve in. We've got to get better at blocking and we've got to get better at transition.
"I like where we're at. We're at a good place to start from. We jump off into a really tough road trip next week."
Chinn agrees with her coach that blocking is an area the Belles need improvement.
"As a right side, my job is very important to block the outside hitter because they get set the most," said the sophomore transfer from Tennessee Wesleyan. "Definitely in practice and even in games I'm working really, really hard to be disciplined on my blocking."
ASU will travel to Colorado next week. The Belles will play Adams State in Alamosa, Colorado on Wednesday. Then ASU will head to Denver to compete in the Colorado Premier Tournament on Friday and Saturday.
This article is written by Charles Bryce from San Angelo Standard-Times, Texas and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.