Hoff’s powerful serve propels Soroco to win over Rangely
OAK CREEK — Soroco High School junior Irene Hoff has a deadly serve. She used nine unreturned serves to help her team go on a 10-point run, turning a 5-4 deficit into a 14-5 advantage against Rangely.
Behind her serves and a powerful offense, the Rams defeated the Panthers, 3-0, on Saturday afternoon. The Rams have yet to lose a set this season.
“We focus on the moment, taking one point at a time. You can only control yourself,” said Soroco head coach Jeannie Jo Logan. “All the girls are starting to work on controlling just themselves. If they do that, the rest comes into play. They’ve had a great year so far.”
Hoff’s serves were nearly impossible to return all night. They were shallow, barely clearing the net, and had velocity.
Ahead of the serve, she assesses the situation.
“I try not to overthink it, because then I get really in my head,” Hoff said. “I’m making sure that I’m swinging hard even if its a short serve, because if I don’t, it goes in the net, and then looking and finding their weaknesses.”
Hoff tries to aim toward a hole in the lineup or a player that hasn’t been receiving serves well.
Soroco is hosting Rangely and Irene Hoff has had four unreturnable serves and an ace, helping the Rams to a 10-5 lead. #COpreps pic.twitter.com/YH9nDh3vWe— Shelby Reardon (@ByShelbyReardon) March 27, 2021
When she steps behind the line, she swats the ball against the floor three times with her palm. Then, she takes two steps forward and throws the ball into the air with her left hand. She then leaps, never taking her eyes off the ball.
“I usually am pretty good at serving. It’s one of my favorite parts of the game,” Hoff said. “I can just do me and ace the other team.”
The process isn’t 100% accurate every time, though. One of Hoff’s serves hit the net partway through the third, giving Rangely a point and tying the game at nine. Soroco only allowed eight more points from the opponent, though, winning the final set 25-17. The first two sets were won by 25-12 margins.
Hoff isn’t the only one with an impressive serve. Junior Sophia Benjamin walks parallel to the service line before throwing the ball in the air and jumping up to serve. Senior Makinley Parker also has a speedy, shallow-arced serve that stymied Rangely on multiple occasions.
“We don’t focus a ton of the serves. We focus a lot on serve receive, so that’s probably naturally helping their serve,” Logan said. “We do play a lot of server against six. We work a lot on our serve receive because in the past that’s been our weakest point.”
Serves were the main reason for the set one win, but set two was won by hard work at the net.
Junior Eden Mayer used her height and athleticism to block Rangely hits.
The dominant afternoon followed an evening of close volleyball. Friday night, the Rams hosted Hotchkiss, winning 25-12, 25-23 and 26-24.
“I told the girls at the end of the night, ‘We won some pretty tight ones,’” Logan said. “We didn’t necessarily need to be in that tight of a game, but the big thing is we won those.”
Saturday, March 27
Soroco 3, Rangely 0
• R 12 12 17 – 0
• S 25 25 25 – 3
Friday, March 26
Soroco 3, Hotchkiss 0
• H 12 23 24 – 0
• S 25 25 26 – 0
Shelby Reardon is the assistant editor at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach her, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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