If they were a circus act, the ringmaster might call them the "Amazing Swinging Stromberg Sisters."
Kate and Emily Stromberg took their high-flying act on the road and helped sixth-ranked Henry Clay down district rival Paul Laurence Dunbar 25-18, 25-16 on Tuesday night.
It was a big win for the Devils, who have extra incentive against the Bulldogs, No. 14 in the coaches' poll. Dunbar has beaten them two straight times in the region championship and gotten in the way of them getting back to the state tournament.
"It was great to be able to come into their place with their enthusiastic fans, and we were able to play our game and not let them get in our heads," said Emily Stromberg, a junior.
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So much of volleyball is about chemistry, and this team has a special bond, the players and coach said.
"We all feel like we can depend on each other," Emily said. "We all have a connection."
Almost finishing her younger sister's sentence, Kate added: "It's like we're all sisters."
The acrobatic siblings led the Devils with a combined 18 kills, including a team-high 11 for Kate, who had seven in the first game alone.
"She's had a breakout season," Grupe said of Kate, noting that a switch back to her natural spot at outside hitter has been key. "Her getting to play her real position has helped her blossom. She's definitely a top prospect."
Not to be outdone, Emily came on in the second game to lead the Devils with five kills, including two that stopped Dunbar runs midway through the game.
"They're very competitive," Grupe said of the Stromberg sisters. "But it's a good competitive."
Kate agreed that seeing her little sister shine makes her want to work that much harder.
"When I see her do well, it just pushes me to improve," she said. "I don't want her to have all the hits."
Emily quietly interjected.
"We push each other to improve," she said.
Their sister act rubs off on the team. They're all like family, Grupe said.
"They've done a lot of bonding and play a lot of silly little games together, like Twister, little dance-offs," he said. "It's a lot of having fun with each other."
It's been a fun run so far for the Devils (26-4), who have a 13-game win streak against in-state opponents.
"I love it," Kate said. "I love the way we're playing. We keep improving, and I know we can make it to state and a good run if we keep improving. That's our ultimate goal."
Dunbar has stood in Henry Clay's way the past two seasons and the two teams might face off a couple more times before one of their seasons ends.
The Bulldogs were led by Madison Hatcher and Lauren Travis' five kills apiece.
Coach Jenni Morgan said Dunbar will learn from this loss, in which her team focused too much on what the Devils were doing.
"We need to stay focused on what the goal is and not get caught up in wins and losses because, in the long run, they don't really matter," Morgan said. "We will keep getting better."
At Paul Laurence Dunbar
Henry Clay def. Dunbar 25-18, 25-16
Records—Henry Clay 26-4, Paul Dunbar 17-8.