by Tom Utescher
After starting the volleyball season with a 3-0 record, Germantown Academy suffered a setback at Archbishop Wood on September 12 (3-1), but the Patriots bounced back at the start of last week for a three-game victory over the Monarchs of Gwynedd Mercy Academy. The Monday match was GA’s first home court appearance of 2018, and after taking the first two games 25-20 and 25-11, the Pats had to come from behind in the third to prevail 25-22.
Sophomore star Natalie Schildt registered 13 kills, and the leaders in assists and digs were senior Shannon Topley (22) and sophomore libero Colleen Gibbons (four).
The hosts quickly went up 6-1 in the opening game and later they seemed on the verge of an easy victory when they led 19-9. After that, though, the Patriots seemed to lose some of their focus and their offense started to sputter.
Looking up out of a deep hole, the Monarchs did not go down to defeat complacently, but instead they set the home crowd on edge as they fought back to just a two-point deficit at 22-20. At this juncture the Patriots stopped their slide and posted the last three points they needed, winning on a hit to the left back corner by junior Kelli Ramer.
Game two commenced with another offensive surge by GA, which rode Topley’s serve to a 6-0 advantage and then led 9-1 a little later. Gwynedd picked up the next three points to keep things from getting completely out of hand, but although the Monarchs improved their situation, they did not rally as effectively as in the previous game.
The count was 18-10 when GA began its stretch run with five consecutive points, most of them on errors by the visitors.
A flawed block attempt by the Patriots gave Gwynedd what would be its final point of the game, with the score now 23-11. The Monarchs hit the ball out over the baseline to give a side-out to GA and bring up game point. On the serve by Germantown’s Gibbons, Gwynedd got two touches on the ball, but the third sent it sideways out of play, and the home team now led 2-0 in the match.
The Monarchs’ coach was ejected from the gym by the officials between the second and third games, but his players rallied on his behalf and put the Patriots on their heels early in the third round. Once they fell behind 4-9, the hosts called a time-out.
From there on, the challenge presented by the rallying Monarchs seemed to inspire GA, as well, and the Patriots played some of their best volleyball in the late minutes of the match.
The Pats would draw close, then Gwynedd would put a few more points between them again, until Germantown finally pulled even at 14-all. The tying point for GA came on a service ace down the left sideline by Gibbons, and the Patriots won four of the next five points as well to make it 18-15.
The Patriots couldn’t make a clean break through, and later the teams were one point apart, with GA up 22-21.
The Pats picked up another point, and for the following sequence a long rally finally ended with a net violation being called on the visitors. Gwynedd was able to get a hit to drop down off of a block by the Patriots, making it 24-22. A set by GA’s Topley then led to a match-clinching hit by sophomore Mackenzie Smith.