by Tom Utescher
A young Chestnut Hill College volleyball squad showed its resilience in a home match last Friday night, initially going down a set, 17-25, then battling back to take the next three, 26-24, 25-16, and 25-20.
The win over New Hampshire’s St. Anselm College was the second victory of the day for the host Griffins; in an afternoon session, CHC knocked off visiting Nyack (N.Y.)
College to level its record in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference at 1-1. At the end of the evening encounter with St. Anselm (a member of the Northeast 10 Conference), Chestnut Hill was 3-5 overall.
CHC head coach Kim Kolesnik, formerly Kim Feeny, is entering her seventh season as mentor of the Griffins.
“We’re starting out with a stretch of 10 games in eight days,” she noted, “and the purpose of that is to get us some experience right away because we’re on the young side. We only have one senior on the roster, we have four new players, and we have one returner playing a new position for the first time.”
The Griffin who has changed roles is junior Rachel Biro, who has moved from middle hitter to the outside. She is apparently adjusting well, as she led the team in kills (16) and was second in blocks (six) in Friday’s win. Biro is a team co-captain this season along with senior right side Katie Schock.
“Katie works very hard and never misses a beat – a great leader by example,” stated Kolesnik. “Rachel is more of a vocal, energetic, pump-you-up kind of captain, so they work well together.”
In addition to Biro bashing the ball across the net, there’s sophomore outside Madison McBride, who accounted for 14 kills against St. Anselm. At the top of the digs column was sophomore libero Regina Trabosh, who played high school volleyball right down the road at Mount St. Joseph Academy. Her father, George, is the head coach at the Mount and this season, when time permits, he’ll lend a hand with the CHC squad.
The Griffins also have a talented and experienced setter in junior Alyssa Tamsing, who rolled up 37 assists last Friday night.
In the opening set against St. Anselm, the Griffins stayed close up to 12-14, then the Hawks notched six straight points and went on to win round one.
Following a 13-13 tie in the second set, Chestnut Hill held modest leads, and then was just three points away from taking the set at 22-17. After a brief Hawks rally CHC reached the brink of set point at 24-22, but again St. Anselm survived, drawing even at 24-all.
On a well-placed tip by the Griffins’ Biro, St. Anselm went low for a dig but couldn’t get the ball up in play. Next, set point came on a kill by McBride. Her ball hit a block and remained playable, but the second contact the Hawks made on the ball sent it sideways out of bounds.
In set three, Chestnut Hill moved up out of a 6-6 tie and led the rest of the way. The Griffins would collect two or three points on most serves, while once the Hawks fell behind, they never were able to score more than one at a time. Off of a set by Tamsing, CHC freshman Samantha Gelfan hammered down the final point (25-16) from near the right side of the net. Gelfan would lead all blockers in the match, with seven stops.
The teams seesawed to 13-13 in the fourth set, then a few St. Anselm errors and a series of kills by McBride helped the hosts get loose on a 7-2 spree that had the Hawks in trouble, down 15-20. The New Englanders responded well, closing it up to 18-20, then the Griffins got moving once more as a hit by freshman Melissa Shunk sent the ball soaring high in the air off a failed St. Anselm block attempt.
Two successful blocks by Chestnut Hill, combined with a hit by the Hawks out over the baseline, helped bring up match point at 24-19. The Griffins also hit the ball too deep, giving guests a brief reprieve, but St. Anselm kept up the pattern by putting too much mustard on its subsequent serve, sending the ball past the back boundary for CHC’s match point.
“Today we showed consistency, and that’s something we need to maintain,” Kolesnik commented. “One of the things we’ve been working on is to have a diverse offense, moving hitters around so it’s not easy for our opponents to figure us out.”
The coach has been happy to see the newcomers blending in well with the team’s veteran players.
“Fortunately, we have good chemistry,” she observed. “This is a supportive group, and they have each others’ back whether they’re on the court or cheering from the sideline.”