Against Northfield Mount Hermon, the Andover Girls Volleyball team continued to show why they have been ranked number one in the A-league since preseason, despite the first loss of the season to Hotchkiss on Wedesnday. On Saturday Andover defeated NMH 3-0 (30-12, 30-20, and 30-24). Unfortunately, Andover fell to Hotchkiss 3-0 last Wednesday in the team’s first loss of the season. Although the competition had a weaker squad than most years, the game was still important for the Blue. “We played our game, and we never let them in theirs” assistant coach Victor Svec said. Svec also said the backups received significant playing time, boding well for the future. The Phillips Academy squad was slightly weakened with injuries, but the bench was thoroughly able to pick up the slack. Melissa Yan ’10, got quality time in as setter and dished out five aces, and players Viola Rothschild ’10 and Katherine Svec ’10 chipped in with great defense. Most importantly, Andover did not play down to its competition or look ahead to a highly anticipated match against Hotchkiss, both of which are problems that powerful teams such as the Big Blue are susceptible to, and dominated right from the start. Veteran Captains Cassidy Carpenter ’08 and Atima Lui ’08 played their usual key roles. Carpenter split time with Yan as setter, while Lui was able to punish the NMH team with powerful spikes, illustrating how Andover continued to dominate on the court. In its next game, Hotchkiss came to the game seeking vengeance as the team lost to Phillips Academy in the finals of the New England Championships last year. Unfortunately Andover would ride home disappointed. Hotchkiss defeated Andover 3-0 (30-26, 30-25, and 30-23), marking the first time Andover has lost in the regular season since 2004. Head Coach Clyfe Beckwith made sure to point out that Andover had the right mentality going to the game, but were just outmatched in the end. “Andover didn’t lose today; Hotchkiss won,” said Coach Beckwith. He cited Hotchkiss’s great defense, particularly on blocks. The match was much closer than the final score indicated. The first game was deadlocked at 8-8 before Hotchkiss caught fire and went on a 19-11 run. Andover responded with a 7-1 run of its own to bring the score to 26-28, but the deficit proved to be too great, as Hotchkiss pulled away 30-26. The second game was also a back and forth affair, with numerous ties and lead changes. Tied at 24, Hotchkiss again pulled away to take a commanding 2-0 lead. The two game lead was particularly astonishing because it equaled the number of games the girls have lost all season. In game three facing a do or die situation, the girls came out aggressive. They took their first commanding lead of the day at 15-11. However, Hotchkiss surged ahead to win the third and final game 30-23. Although the loss was disappointing, it did not come without impressive individual efforts. Carpenter racked up an amazing 33 assists. Lui and Cristina Mommsen ’09 combined for 24 kills. Isabelle Engelsted ’09 also chipped in with great serves, recording five aces for the day. Although Andover is now 8-1 and no longer is competing for an undefeated season, Svec insists that the team has more important goals. “The season isn’t about being undefeated; it’s about ending the season ranked number one.” Andover is still eyeing the top spot, along with Hotchkiss, Deerfield, Choate and Taft. The team will travel to Deerfield again on Saturday.