For the first time since 2013, Andover Girls Volleyball overtook a previously undefeated Phillips Exeter Academy with a nail-biting 3-2 victory on Wednesday, bringing Andover’s record to 8-1. Exeter held a nearly flawless record prior to Andover’s victory, having lost only one set coming into the game.
The game was a back-and-forth struggle between two unrelenting teams. Andover lost the first set, but key hits from Janneke Evans ’18, Fran Trautmann ’16 and Evelyn Mesler ’17 propelled the team to take the next two sets. Although Exeter won a tight fourth set 28-26, Andover answered by stealing the last set and securing the overall victory.
Andover’s team chemistry and hunger for success proved to distinguish it from its strong competitors.
Co-Captain Erica Shin ’16 said, “Our biggest strength this game was high energy and communication. When we were fired up, our hits landed, our passes went to the setter and we played like we wanted to win.”
Tiffany Bauman ’16 added, “We went into the game with the attitude that we were going to win. And we had that chemistry that they don’t have. We were able to win in the end because we had better communication and were able to pick each other up.”
Because Exeter suffered its first lost of the season, Andover now shares the first-seed in the league with Exeter.
“It’s really awesome because now we’re tied for first seed, and we’re going to be that one team that beat them, they had only lost one set this season, so we not only took that from them but we also took their spot in the ranking,” said Bauman.
On Saturday, Andover also beat Dana Hall 3-0. Although the first set was close, ending in a 29-27 victory, Andover dominated the next two sets with power and composure.
The team was able to capitalize on Dana Hall’s weakness: speed. Dana Hall moved slowly on the court, so Andover focused on getting quick sets to Trautmann, who then proceeded to smash the ball down the line. The clever tactical adjustment threw Andover’s opponent off and led the team to 25-8 and 25-13 wins in the second and third sets, respectively.
Even though the last two sets were decisive victories, everyone on the court continued to play as if the team were down. Darcy Burnham ’18 hustled to save a ball even though Andover was in the lead. Evans said, “[Burnham] had an amazing save, which really led us to finish the third set strongly.”
Andover will face Northfield Mount Hermon on Saturday looking to boost its already strong record.