Reservoir rallies from big first-set hole to top Atholton in volleyball

No. 11 Gators defeat No. 12 Raiders, 29-27, 25-18, 25-18, in key Howard County matchup

October 11, 2011|By Mike Frainie, Special to The Baltimore Sun

Of all the skills the Reservoir volleyball team showed Tuesday night, it was one you can't measure that made the biggest difference — mental toughness.

The No. 11 Gators rallied from a big deficit in the first to defeat visiting No. 12 Atholton, 29-27, 25-18, 25-18, in a key Howard County league game.

"When you play your rival, it's more personal," Reservoir senior Kelsea Belt said. "Some of us are good friends with the girls on that team, so we really wanted this one.

The Gators (5-3, 5-2) looked like they wanted to be anywhere but on the court early in the first set. Poor communication, serving errors and two aces by Atholton's Amanda Goodspeed let the Raiders (7-2, 6-1) take a 10-3 lead and forced Reservoir coach Carole Ferrante to call timeout.

After the break, the Gators looked like a different team. Reservoir scored 14 of the next 18 points to tie the set at 17. The teams traded points until a kill by Belt and a tap over the net by Rachel Smith gave the Gators a 29-27 victory.

The Gators trailed by small margins much of the second game but again hit the accelerator when it mattered most. After an ace by Goodspeed tied it at 17, the Gators went on an 8-1 run — behind two big blocks and a tap over the net by Aly Haslam — to take the set.

The blocks seemed to fire up Reservoir.

"There's a lot that can shift in a big game with a big block," Haslam said. "When I block, it seems to get our team up. We definitely benefited from that."

Atholton didn't give up in the third set, managing to tie it at 12 before Reservoir's defense took over and allowed the Gators to take the set and the match.

"We were so ready for this match," Reservoir's Amanda Gross said. "We were really fired up. Every single person contributed to this win."

Atholton coach Dave Decker said the rivalry factor played a part in the loss, but he also said his team didn't play its best games.

"We looked like a fifth-grade soccer team out there," Decker said. "Everyone wanted the ball at the same time. We had a lack of communication, and no one was talking. We didn't control our side of the net very well, either. We made bad plays, and we collapsed."

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