by Tom Utescher
Bursts of heavy rain throughout the area last Tuesday didn’t bother Mount St. Joseph fans who filled the school’s gym to watch the Magic take on a longtime volleyball power in the Athletic Association of Catholic Academies, Villa Maria.
Falling 16-25 in the opening game of the match, the Mounties got closer in the second set, 22-25, then extended the contest by winning the third round, 25-23. For a time, it looked like the Magic might force a fifth game as they went up 10-4 in the fourth, but the visiting Hurricanes rallied, drew even and went on to win, 25-18.
While Villa improved to 3-0 within the AACA, Mount St. Joe came away at 3-2, with victories over Merion Mercy, Sacred Heart and Villa Joseph Marie and losses to Villa Maria and St. Basil. The Magic went 1-1 in early non-league bouts.
Last Tuesday, Villa made a few errors out of the gate and the Magic moved ahead 3-1, then the Hurricanes countered with a five-point run. A kill by sophomore Vivianna Carrasco got a side-out for the Mounties, but they would never regain the lead. Unable to score more than two points consecutively, Mount St. Joe succumbed, 25-16.
With Carrasco and junior Olivia Nace scoring on hits, the Magic held a 12-11 edge in the middle of game two. The visitors were giving up other points on errors, and throughout the match both sides made a number of serving mistakes, miscues that seemed incongruous considering the higher level of play in other facets of the game.
Villa went ahead in the second game, but the Mount was still just two points back at 15-17 when the ‘Canes proceeded to reinforce their lead with four straight points. The hosts were soon back in contention as a scoring tip by senior Catie Esslinger started of the Mount’s own four-point spurt.
A little later, Villa had the Mounties on the ropes, 24-19, but MSJ senior Summer Adamson laid down a hit and the Magic closed it up to 24-22 before Villa won thanks to a Magic serve out over the baseline.
In the early minutes of game three, the Magic attained a 7-4 lead. Sophomore Nicole Uzzo had been the Mount’s libero early on, but now junior Maggie Fitzpatrick was wearing the white jersey, and in addition to her strong defense, she even registered a kill during the Magic’s early push in the third game.
Villa caught up at 9-9, and there were a number of other ties as the tally rose to 19-19. Not long after that, the Magic found themselves in danger of losing the overall match, trailing 21-23. Junior Kelly Rothenberg got a tip past Villa to score, and then she combined on a block with senior Megan McGettigan (just back in action after an early-season injury) to tie things up at 23-all.
The Mount moved ahead when the Hurricanes mishit the ball up front and put it into the net on their own side. Hitting outside on the left, Nace then secured the game point for the Magic, tipping the ball over two blockers and seeing it drop down to the court near the sideline.
As game four got underway, Nace nailed two kills and Villa made several errant hits as the Mount went ahead, 10-4. Five straight points gave Villa some traction, and the visitors pulled even at 17-all and then went up by a point.
The Hurricanes’ next serve swerved out over the left sideline to make it 18-18, but the Mount couldn’t add any more points after that. Villa ran off six straight points and then had its middle hitter deliver the coup de grace for the game and match victory.