by Tom Utescher
In the thick of the Inter-Ac volleyball season, the girls of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy were able to pick up a non-league victory on their home court last Wednesday afternoon.
As heavy rains washed all outdoor games right off the schedule, the Blue Devil netters wrapped up a 3-0 victory against visiting Interboro High School. SCH showed some mental toughness in the second set of the match, when the Buccaneers put up stiff resistance before the Devils finally prevailed at 26-24. The wins in the first and third sets came a little more easily, 25-17 and 25-19.
SCH improved to 8-7 with that outcome. Playing impressively in non-league bouts, the Blue Devils were 8-2 in those matches after the Interboro encounter.
“This wasn’t one of the stronger opponents on our schedule, and we didn’t play up to our potential,” observed SCH coach Heather Hoehn. “We had some lapses, but I was happy to see us finish it out in three [sets].”
It was a different kind of contest than the Blue Devils had experienced a day earlier, when they fell to Inter-Ac rival Germantown Academy.
“A lot of the teams in our league are very aggressive, and you get used to balls coming at you at 60 or 70 miles per hour,” Hoehn said. “We told the team before this match that they’d have to adjust to some more off-speed stuff. It took us a little while to adapt.”
SCH actually got off to a rocky start, as Interboro held serve up to 7-0. The Blue Devils had called a time out at 6-0, then gave up one more point before getting the side-out and sending senior outside hitter Brigit McDermott to the service line. A team co-captain along with classmate and libero Julia Moriarty, McDermott steadied the home team, which put together a run of its own to go up 9-7.
A little later, the Bucs pulled back into a 12-12 tie, then sent their next serve into the net. SCH senior Kyra Jackson’s first serve was not returned by the visitors, and they gave up another point with four touches on the next sequence. The Devils now were up 15-12, and would lead the rest of the way. They scored eight of the next 10 points to go up 23-14.
The road to set point took a detour thanks to three errors that closed the score up to 23-17, then Interboro served the ball into the net once more. The hosts then polished off the set when the Bucs could not handle a low flat serve by McDermott’s sophomore sister, Catie.
A few minutes into the second set, the home team held a 10-6 advantage, but the Bucs caught up at 11-all, and the teams seesawed through the rest of the segment. Interboro led 19-15 at one point, then SCH ran off four in a row to tie the score.
A few minutes later, the hosts scored on a put-back by junior setter Marissa Pownall and were on the verge of game point, 24-21. After the Devils hit a ball out over the baseline and then struggled with Interboro’s next two serves, the teams were all even at 24. Brigit McDermott whacked a ball inside the right sideline for a kill, then the Bucs gave up set point by committing a carry while trying to handle a hit by Jackson.
There was more back-and-forth in the third go-round. The Devils erased an early 0-3 deficit and pushed ahead 13-7, then the Bucs dug in for a 7-1 run that leveled the count at 14-14. Later, the hosts were closing in on the win but still not out of the woods entirely with a 21-18 advantage.
The visitors hit the ball out over the left sideline and then a kill by Jackson made it 23-18. SCH gave up a point with a net violation, then got it back when Interboro hit an errant serve. Next, the Bucs dug out a hit by McDermott in the back row, but then lost track of the ball near the net and let it hit the floor for match point.
For the match overall, Brigit McDermott led the Blue Devils in kills (12) and was second in digs, with 16 to Moriarty’s team-high 22. Pownall paced SCH in assists, with 18, and had 12 digs and six kills. Jackson also recorded six kills, while contributing 11 digs to the winning cause.
“Brigit terminated well on the outside, which she’s been doing all season long,” Hoehn remarked. “Kyra served aggressively for us, and we played a pretty good team game. What we need to do now is just eliminate some little lapses in our concentration and our intensity. We want to play at a consistent level and avoid the little peaks and valleys.”