by Tom Utescher
Springside Chestnut Hill Academy marked the start of its 2012 volleyball season with a victory at home over Little Flower Catholic High School last Wednesday. The SCH Lions and the visiting Sentinels split the first four sets, then the home team prevailed in the fifth for the 3-2 win.
Outside hitter Michelle Cybularz and setter Gianna Pownall, both seniors, are the SCH team captains for the second year in a row. Starting alongside them in the Little Flower match were juniors Courtney Hamilton, Jenna Moriarty, and Kathryn Saltzman, and sophomore Bridget McDermott.
Moriarty’s sophomore sister, Julia, is also on the varsity roster, along with senior Sydney Kevitch and sophomores Kathleen Foley, Kyra Jackson, and Comora Love-Mitchell.
Currently, the only freshman in the varsity mix is Jenna Yorko, a new SCH student who has cousins who were involved in varsity-level athletics at Penn Charter.
In the season opener last week, Springside Chestnut Hill surged to an early 7-1 lead, but the guest group rallied to inch ahead, 10-9. The lead see-sawed back and forth, with Little Flower’s last burst of offense putting them up 19-18.
The Sentinels hit the ball out over the baseline for a side-out and a 19-19 tie, then SCH’s Saltzman served out the set. McDermott scored a kill for the hosts, and the other points came on errors by the visitors as the Lions won 25-19.
The visitors responded by taking a 6-0 lead in the following set, and they went on to level the match score (1-1) with a 25-11 triumph.
Some effective blocking by McDermott and also by Hamilton helped the Lions regain the upper hand in a 25-16 third round. The winning point came when Jenna Moriarty positioned herself for an apparent set, but put the ball over the net instead, catching the Sentinels off-guard.
The players on the court weren’t the only ones in the Vare Fieldhouse who were working up a sweat. When spectators arrived they immediately noticed that the air conditioning was not operating on this muggy afternoon, bringing to mind the title of the Gin Blossoms’ debut album, “New Miserable Experience.”
After host SCH took a 2-1 lead in the match score, Little Flower rebounded strongly once again, duplicating their 25-11 win in the second set to tie the contest at two games apiece. The fifth set of a match only goes up to 15 points instead of the regular 25, but the set still must be won by at least two points.
The fifth round between these two well-matched squads ended up 17-15, in favor of the Lions. The home team actually trailed 1-6 early, a dangerous situation in a shortened set. The Sentinels disrupted their own momentum with a serve into the net, and kills by McDermott, Cybularz, and Hamilton helped the hosts rally.
The Lions were still in a tough spot later on when they trailed 11-13, but the visitors hit back-to-back balls into the net, and then a pass by Saltzman scored to give SCH a 14-13 edge and bring up match point. The Lions couldn’t seal the deal right away, though, and the teams climbed into a 15-15 tie.
During the long rally that followed, McDermott made a block to keep the Lions alive, then she scored a kill to bring up match point once more. This time, Little Flower was unable to return a serve by Julia Moriarty, and SCH celebrated a season-opening victory.