by Tom Utescher
Some of last Wednesday’s rain found its way through the roof of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy’s Vare Field House, but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the Blue Devils volleyball team and their supporters as they assembled for a match on Senior Day.
In addition to celebrating the careers of 12th graders Anab Adid, Drew Kevitch, and Marissa Pownall, the SCH faithful were also able to revel in the team’s 3-0 victory over visiting Academy of the New Church.
The Blue Devils had beaten the Lions by a 3-0 count out at ANC in the middle of September. In that match the closest set of the three was the opener, while in last week’s rematch SCH rolled through the first two sets, 25-12, 25-14, but was tied 17-all with its guest in the third round before pulling away to win.
Springside Chestnut Hill headed into the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Tournament with an overall record of 11-11. The Blue Devils were 6-7 against PAIS member teams, and in a subset of that group, SCH went 1-7 within its own Inter-Ac League.
Despite the convincing final score of the Blue Devils’ opening set against ANC last week, the hosts started slowly. Following a tie at 4-4, the visiting Lions forged ahead, gradually building up a 12-7 advantage largely due to errors on the part of the home team. It was a serving mistake by the visitors themselves that got SCH a side-out at 12-8, then sophomore Kayla McTamney stepped to the service line.
McTamney is one of the pitchers on the varsity softball team, and here she had the effect of a reliable reliever taking control of a game. She just consistently drove the ball over the net and her teammates regained their confidence and rallied behind her. She had only one true ace, but most of her serves were mishandled by the visitors.
New Church would not score again in the game, and called time-out after falling behind 20-12. The break did the Lions no good, as SCH resumed scoring with kills by seniors Pownall and Adid. Before long, the locals locked up set point when the guests hit the ball out over the left sideline.
In the second round, the Blue Devils didn’t put together another 18-0 run, but they led the whole way after two kills by Pownall and one by Adid helped them go up 5-1. The lead steadily increased as ANC managed a good sequence here and there, but never could score more than two consecutive points.
Once ANC had scored its final point to make it 22-14, the home team got the ball back when the Lions served into the net. McTamney was now on the baseline for the Blue Devils, and two unreturned serves closed out the set for the hosts, putting them up 2-0 in the match.
Looking to avoid another straight-sets defeat by the Devils, New Church moved ahead 6-3 in the initial phase of the third stanza. The Lions then committed a double hit to lose service, and SCH soon was back even at 6-6. After that, neither squad could engineer a significant lead as the tally progressed up to 17-17.
Then Pownall and junior Katie Suplick combined for a block, and Springside Chestnut Hill stayed ahead. Another 11th-grader, Catie McDermott, now rotated to the server’s spot, where she would finish out the set. ANC couldn’t cope with her first serve, and then Suplick pushed the ball over the Lions’ front row to score.
The next two sequences ended with the visitors hitting the ball out over the sideline and then into the net, raising the score to 22-17. Another McDermott serve was misplayed on the far side of the net, then a scoring block by McTamney and a tip by Suplick sealed the victory for SCH.