by Tom Utescher
In their penultimate home court appearance of the 2015 regular season, Chestnut Hill College’s volleyball Griffins treated home fans to a brief but enjoyable evening’s entertainment last Wednesday, going past visiting University of the Sciences in Philadelphia in three straight sets.
After capturing the first two rounds, 25-21 and 25-13, CHC made the fun last a little longer in the third set. Locked up at 24-all, the teams would need to exceed the usual 25-point limit, but the Griffins quickly secured the required two-point advantage to end the set at 26-24.
Chestnut Hill climbed to a conference mark of 9-6, with an overall record of 10-18 that included an 0-9 start to the season in matches against a number of elite NCAA Division II teams.
The overall leaders in two major offensive and defensive categories last Wednesday were the two co-captains of the Griffins. Senior outside Rachel Biro racked up 17 kills in the match, and junior libero Regina Trabosh, a Mount St. Joseph Academy grad, was credited with 17 digs.
Despite their conference record of 4-11 coming into the match, the USciences Devils stayed with the home team up to 18-18 in the opening set. The Griffins went ahead for good as they collected five of the next six points, three of them coming on miscues by the visitors. Now down 19-23, the Devils didn’t stay alive much longer, with junior Emily Koehler’s kill wrapping up the set at 25-21.
In the second round the tally was only 2-2 when CHC moved ahead and stayed there. The visitors tried to halt their slide when they called a time-out at 12-5, but soon Chestnut Hill spread the point gap to double digits at 19-9. After the tally rose to 23-10 the Devils resisted briefly, scoring three straight on two solid hits and a two-handed push.
USciences then sent the ball out over the left sideline for a side-out, and when the visitors were unable to return a service by CHC sophomore Peyton Reno, the set concluded comfortably for the Hill women.
Chestnut Hill wasn’t facing the most daunting of opponents, but eighth-year head coach Kim Kolesnik was satisfied with the way her club took care of business against a team they were supposed to beat. The match also provided her with an opportunity to experiment.
“We were trying a couple of new things offensively in order to prepare for the rest of the season,” she explained. “Our focus was on getting out of our comfort zone to try those new things and take some risks.”
After the lopsided second set, the USciences ladies played better and went down fighting in the third. CHC got away 6-2 at the start and later were up 13-5, then the Devils dug in and clawed back into contention. One of a number of ties came at 22-all, then junior Madison McBride made a kill for the hosts and Biro bopped a ball that spun along the net tape and dropped down for another point.
Still, the Devils weren’t done, pulling even one last time at 24-24. CHC freshman Kennedy Sutton slammed a kill from the right side to bring up match point, and then when Biro delivered a hit, the dig by the Devils sent the ball slanting up into the ceiling so that it bounced back down on Chestnut Hill’s side of the net. The point, and the match, went to the Griffins.
“I was able to get some freshmen in and get them some experience,” Koleskik noted. “They got to play under a bit of pressure, because even though this wasn’t one of the top teams, we needed to win the game.”
One thing the coach says she’s seen this season is that the players are starting to have more confidence in the program as a whole.
She said, “We’re getting more comfortable mentally with the idea that we’re a team that should be in the postseason, and with our being a team that is regarded as a challenge for other teams to face.”