Despite Screams & Celebratory Dances PA Volleyball Serves up Another Win

Those in the stands at DiClemente Court on Saturday witnessed arguably the most exciting volleyball game of the spring. Andover took on an NMH team that was energetic, to say the least. Cheering after every play, screaming on the court, doing a SLAM-esque celebratory dance after aced serves, and supported by an unusually vocal bench, NMH made a spectacle of the four games played. Their conduct, to some, blurred the lines between enthusiasm and poor sportsmanship, but the raucous squad across the net forced some excellent play on the PA side, though not enough to pull out the win. The first game was clearly one-sided: NHM took the floor with a vigor that made PA look apathetic. Though the score stayed fairly close, tied at several points, as far as the 27th, observers would agree the visitors had the competitive edge. NMH players moved quicker, resulting in fewer mistakes than the slow to warm up Andover squad. Most of NMH’s points could be attributed to plays bungled by Andover rather than superior offensive play. It was during the second game that things got interesting. After a self-described “unimpressive” first game, Andover galvanized its players and claimed the lead from the start. A streak of NMH errors allowed an Andover lead of 15-10, but the luck switched sides and the score quickly deteriorated from 22-18 to the final 25-30. However, the real contest during this round was the noise being made on either side, as PA attempted to shed its apparent lethargy and answer – though the team exercised commendable tact by stopping short of matching – its opponents’ overzealousness. At certain points, it seemed the commotion between plays had superseded the importance of the actual play. The third game returned each team’s focus to the ball. The two teams had battled intensely for two games and developed insight into their opponent’s style of play. The result was intuitive defense confronted with smart offense, and an elevated level of play for both teams. The first third of the game was closely contested, but Andover pulled away to keep a five-point lead well into the last third. But at 28-24, NMH called a time out and came back with a four-point, unanswered run to tie the game. Proceeding evenly, the tight score invoked the rule requiring a two-point lead to win, and tense plays were fought over until Andover won consecutive points, finishing at 33-31. The referees and coaches agreed on a fourth game, and the teams returned weary but resolute. Andover played solidly, forcing the frenetic NMH team into several early errors. Nonetheless, the score stood tied seven times before reaching ten. Midway through, Andover committed a few serious errors. NMH held the lead until Andover fought back to a 23-22 score, only to see it swept away by six straight NMH points. PA scored a final point to end NMH’s run, as the game culminated in a 24-30 Andover victory and improved Andover’s record to 2-4 for the season. On Tuesday, Andover’s Varsity and JV teams hosted Haverhill’s JV. Varsity took the court first and played two games, winning both with scores of 30-17 and 30-23. The third game matched the two Junior Varsity squads, and PA’s JV upheld Varsity’s record, defeating Haverhill 32-30 in a much closer match. Andover will defend its 3-4 record against Loomis in an away game this Saturday.