No. 12 Arundel upsets top-ranked St. Paul's in volleyball

September 09, 2014|By Mike Frainie, For The Baltimore Sun

This season was supposed to be a down year for the Arundel volleyball team. If that's the case, they sure picked the right time to find an up.

The No. 12 Wildcats (1-0) stormed to a two-set lead over top-ranked St. Paul's (1-1) and then rallied in the fifth set to defeat the Gators, 25-16, 25-19, 21-25, 16-25, 15-10 in a nonleague match.

"I think we're better than we thought we were," Arundel coach Ashley Yuscavage said. "I was telling [senior setter] Emily [Durocher] that I needed someone to step up and surprise me. I think they all did today."

One of the keys to the victory was starting quickly. St. Paul's was playing with star outside hitter Jillian Randolph for the first time in a year. Randolph (10 kills, 4 blocks) had been out after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery, and you could see that the communication on offense just wasn't where it needed to be.

"I think I had a scare [with her knee] in the first game, but I played through it," Randolph said. "So much of getting over a knee injury is mental recovery, and I had to work through that. We played much better in the third and fourth games, but our blocking and our timing just wasn't there."

The Wildcats looked like they may put the match away in the third set, but St. Paul's began to play a bit better. With the set tied, 12-12, St. Paul's used nine straight service points by Elizabeth Kelly to take a 21-12 lead. Arundel rallied again, cutting the lead to three before the Gators claimed the set, 25-21.

The fourth set looked much the same. With the set tied at 11, the Gators got aces by Randolph and Mattie Bayne and kills by Bayne and Jala Tucker to pull ahead.

The fifth set was tied at four before the Wildcats gained momentum. Kills by Arundel's Kate Shea (10 kills) and Chyna Gubbings (11 kills) took the lead to 6-4, and caused Gators coach Aisha Mason to call a timeout. After the break, the Wildcats took advantage of two more kills by Gubbings and a thundering kill by Durocher (31 assists) to score seven of the next nine points to take an 13-6 lead.

After a cross-court shot by Kennedi Colclough fell in for the final point, the Wildcats had their upset.

Yuscavage said she likes to play tough out-of-conference games like this early in the year.

"We always look for quality competition outside of our county, and St. Paul's is a great team," Yuscavage said. "We want those games to be as challenging as possible, and St. Paul's certainly made us work for the win."

"We showed our heart out there," Arundel senior libero Alyssa Glenn (19 digs) said. "We came out strong and got in a zone, and our will to win carried us. A win like this shows everyone just how invested we are in our team and working hard in practice."

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