by Tom Utescher
Germantown Academy’s volleyball team ran its record to 4-0 in its early non-league matches last Thursday afternoon.
The Patriots didn’t know much about their opponent, Valley Forge Baptist Academy. Located in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, home of Ursinus College, the school has a co-ed enrollment of just 120 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Nevertheless VFBA, also nicknamed the Patriots, arrived at GA last week with a 6-0 record that included a 3-0 sweep over Friends Schools League member Shipley School. Germantown fell behind in each of the first two sets on Thursday, but ultimately fashioned a victory in straight sets, 25-21, 25-17, 25-14.
Valley Forge’s primary hitter, senior Rylee Urban, was not quite as tall as most of the GA front row, but she directed her shots cleverly and timed them well. The visitors pushed ahead of the host Patriots, 8-2, early in the first set, with GA’s two points coming on opposition errors.
Junior Natalie Schildt then made a kill for a GA side-out, and senior Caitlyn Priore went to the service line to help the home team close up the score to 7-8. Still, Valley Forge enjoyed leads into the middle of the set, ahead for the final time at 14-13 before a hit by freshman Fiona McKenna led off a four-point Germantown run.
The visitors’ last point of the set made it 23-21 a few minutes later, then GA closed it out with two more points, clinching the win when a ball hit by Schildt deflected out of bounds when the visitors tried to dig it out.
Another strong start gave Valley Forge an 8-3 advantage in the second set, but once again, a Schildt kill followed by a stretch at the service line by Priore sparked GA. The hosts emerged with an 11-8 advantage, then the visitors remained a few points behind GA until the tally reached 18-16.
Schildt put down a hit, then a lift called against the visitors became the first of four consecutive Valley Forge miscues. Later, at 24-16, Valley Forge picked up one more point to delay defeat. The end came when Priore set the ball perfectly for a swinging Schildt.
Germantown gained momentum over the course of the overall match, and in set three it was the home team which broke in front, 8-3. Later, Valley Forge called timeout when trailing 16-9, but the host Patriots didn’t let up. They clinched the match victory when their guests hit the ball out over the baseline.
It was just as well that GA was able to wrap things up in three sets, since the junior class was just about to set off on a field trip to a Phillies baseball game.
Germantown recorded 25 kills and eight digs for Schildt, 29 assists and five service aces for Priore, nine kills and eight digs for McKenna and 10 digs and five assists for senior libero Kelli Ramer.