LANSING | Marian Catholic dropped its fourth volleyball match in a row Wednesday, and coach Ryan Summers had only himself to blame. Sort of.
T.F. South's Crystal Lee dominated the offensive highlights with 10 kills as the Rebels stunned the Spartans 25-22, 25-20 in Lansing.
Afterward, she looked toward her club coach, Summers, as a reason why.
"He worked with me on my approach over the summer," Lee, a 5-foot-11 outside hitter, said. "He told me to start more back so my approach could be much faster. I can see the set longer, and get to the ball better."
Taking full advantage of her 10-foot-2 reach, Lee exploded for five kills in each set.
The first three came as T.F. South (2-1) jumped out to a 9-4 lead in the opener. That edge would eventually reach 23-12, and though Marian surged back to within 24-22 as Kendyl Todd strung together an ace block, a free-ball kill and a second-hit kill in a span of four points, the Rebels never lost their poise.
The second set was closer for a time, until a run that took South from a 14-11 advantage to a 20-13 lead, the Rebels beginning and ending the surge with Lee kills, and buoyed in the middle by some uncharacteristic play from Marian's two-time Times player of the Year, Amber Clay.
Clay, after having more mishits (3) than kills (2) in the first set, had two of each in the second, the two misses coming amid South's 6-2 run. The Rebels' Madyson Anthony closed things out with kills for two of South's last four points, giving her six on the night, the second touching off a wild celebration.
"Marian has always beaten us," South coach Kim Sands said."The girls are really up."
Marian beat South twice last season, in Chicago Heights and in regional play. The Spartans, at 2-5, are a long way from matching the 28-9 mark they posted in 2012.
"Amber, I'll never sell her short," Summers said. "She brings it every time. But we expect her to get 15 to 20 kills a match, and you can't be your best every time. But she'll put the work in to turn it around. And we need to help her out some.
"We're still a little discombobulated. We're talented, but we're not smooth. We still haven't locked in on our best lineup."
The Rebels have. With nine returning players from last season's squad, they showed a cohesiveness Marian didn't in what has become a rivalry game, given Summers has coached both Lee and South's 6-2 middle/outside hitter Briana Lilly.
"I told the girls, rivalries are always about emotion," Summers said. "Do you play excited and play better, or do you play nervous? T.F. South played excited. We played nervous."
Ashtyn Kapovich, a senior libero, led a spirited defense with 20 digs in 24 attempts and added 10 service points, four of those on aces. Setter Abbe Mullen, another senior, had 26 assists and Leah Lagestee, a third, had five kills.
For Marian, Todd led the way with five ace blocks, adding three kills. Madeline Huekels had 10 service points.