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Volleyball: Calling all her shots

BYRON – Baseball lore says Babe Ruth called a home in the fifth inning of Game 3 of the 1932 World Series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

The Bambino pointed to the center-field fence before taking a Charlie Root pitch out of the park in that general direction.

That called shot is historic, but it’s nothing compared to what Dakota’s Sarah Thompson does every play of every match for the Indians. 

The junior hitter appeared to call every shot of the Indians’ offense during Thursday’s 25-13, 25-22 win over Oregon in the Class 2A Byron Sectional championship match. 

Thompson, at 5 feet, 11 inches, was constantly moving every time the Hawks sent the ball over the net. With each set or bump, she was shouting instructions that were hard to understand from the seats, but that sent her teammates into coordinated patterns. 

The end was almost always the same. A clean set to Thompson somewhere near the net.

They set her up on the first five offensive possessions of the first set and, coincidentally, the Indians built a quick 5-1 lead after Oregon’s Devyn Absher started the match with a kill after a Dakota serve. 

“I think we were really nervous at first with it being a sectional,” Oregon sophomore Delaney Mahoney said. “They made it tough on us at first. We adjusted to her a little too late.”

Thompson’s heavy-handed hits had the Oregon back row backing up most of the match, leaving the middle open for tip kills on a couple key occasions. 

Thompson finished with 12 of Dakota’s 18 kills. She also had four aces and one block. 

Thompson led Dakota to the Class 1A state title in 2011. During the summer, the IHSA changed the classification levels in volleyball, bumping the Indians up to 2A.

We’ll have to see if she’ll be able to direct the Indians to a title in a larger enrollment class. Next up will be Chicago University on Saturday at the Pecatonica Supersectional.

For the Hawks, it’s a good chance many of these girls will get another crack at Thompson and the Indians.

Oregon loses only senior Devyn Absher from its starting lineup. Three of the starters on Thursday were sophomores.

“We’ll definitely learn from this,” Mahoney said. “We know now that we have to go as hard as we can on every point. We can’t afford to take any points off. We want to get back here next year.” 

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