Volleyball, a sport grounded in rhythm and consistency, can often come down to experience versus experience.
Like 11 seniors on St. Anne’s-Belfield’s roster against a Covenant team that starts three freshmen and a sophomore.
Then again, sometimes, that senior-laden squad has other things to worry about.
“With 11 seniors, college admissions terrifies me,” said STAB coach Stacey Gearhart. “We’ve got deadlines coming and they’re all exhausted and of course none of them are taking light loads.”
The Saints didn’t look preoccupied by the college application process Wednesday night, picking up a 3-0 victory over the young Eagles squad that was recently tabbed as the state’s No. 8-ranked team in Division II.
The Saints’ Lainey Wood exploded for 12 kills and four aces on the night to lead the offense while Dom Betoni came up with eight kills of her own to bolster the Saints’ attack. LaRissa Rogers (four kills) and C.J. Brown (three kills) rounded out the attack. Margaret Giles pulled the trigger all night at setter with a 23-assist performance while Betoni and Brown had 13 and 10 digs respectively to anchor the defense.
“It’s always fun when we play our cross-town rivals — (Covenant coach) Rob (Rhodes) is a phenomenal coach, he finds talent where you wouldn’t expect it, he’s got young girls and you are always afraid of what Rob’s team is going to look like,” Gearhart said. “I think our girls played pretty well. We had moments where we fell apart, but as a coach you always want to see is that they can regroup and get back on it.”
Covenant bounced back from a frustrating game two to force STAB to rally to win game three and close out the match. The Eagles led 12-8 before STAB bounced back to take a 14-13 lead and eventually close it out 25-17.
“We first had to acknowledge that game two we just completely lost focus,” Rhodes said. “There was a lack of communication, lack of movement and a lack of assignment execution. We had to just own up to that. Game three was a resettling of ourselves and not making those errors.”
The Saints’ experience and aggressiveness, according to Rhodes, allowed them to dictate exactly how the game was going to be played.
“When we put the ball over we were not aggressive enough and they’re disciplined (movement-wise) on STAB’s side,” Rhodes said. “They were able to take those easier balls and run the type of plays they wanted to.”
Covenant freshman Emily Maupin finished with five aces and a pair of blocks while Katie Shifflette notched seven kills and Amber Jenkins finished with five kills.