A standout performance at the net by Captain Peter Bang ’11 wasn’t enough to bring Andover their first league match victory, as Andover suffered a close 3-1 loss to Choate at home on Saturday. A 3-2 loss to Wilbraham later in the week brought Andover’s record to 0-7 in the league.
Looking to avenge a close loss to Choate earlier in the season, Andover went into the match up looking to grab an elusive league victory as the countdown to the playoffs began. Though plagued by inexperience and inconsistency, the team charisma and stronger performances by seniors gave Andover a fighting chance in the match and into the playoffs.
Inspired by a pep talk by Coach Beckwith, Andover started the first set strong. That momentum ran out quickly as Andover fell behind in the first set despite the front row’s multiple kills.
Choate countered Andover’s kills with their own strength at the net, putting up a formidable block. Andover lost the first set 19-25, but looked to bounce back in the second set with a new rotation.
Andover tried a new rotation centered on Bang in the second set. Bang said, “The rotation we had in the second set worked really well together. That might be our main rotation going into our next game.” Andover gained a quick lead in the set and never relinquished it, winning the set 25-22.
Starting to feel momentum, Andover kept in the same line-up for the third set. Andover kept the set close, until fatigue started to set in. Jimmy Philps ’12 said, “That rotation was firing on all cylinders for the second set. The third set was tough, and Choate kept us constantly moving.” Andover’s inexperience began to show as the third set came to a close, with Choate pulling away to an 18-25 win.
Down 2-1, Andover roared back in the fourth set, but Andover’s momentum slowed as the set labored on. Choate’s offense proved too strong for Andover’s defense, as Choate took the set 18-25, and the match 3-1.
Propelled by Marcus Smith ’12 and good contributions from Philps and Vidush Mahansaria ‘12, Andover challenged Wilbraham in an intense five set match, coming up just short 3-2. Spurred by the roar of the enthusiastic crowd Andover played its best of the season by far.
In the first set, Andover and Wilbraham traded points back and forth until Wilbraham pulled ahead to a 12-18. Wilbraham served Andover off the court, winning the set 14-25.
In the second set, Andover came out strong gaining a quick 10-8 lead off. Despite strong play from Smith, Bang, and Mahansaria, Wilbraham kept up with Andover, bringing the set to 23-23. Wilbraham pulled ahead at the least minute winning the set 25-27.
Down 2-0, Andover responded aggressively winning the next set 25-21 off crucial play from Kade Call ’14, Philps, and Bang who propelled Andover to a 25-21 victory.
Andover carried their momentum into the fourth set acquiring an early lead and riding it to a comfortable 25-21 victory. Tied 2-2, Andover found itself poised for its first league. Feeling the pressure, Andover responded with determination, pulling ahead 13-9. However, Wilbraham scored six consecutive points to win the set 15-13.
Philps said, “It was tough to come so close to winning a league match and have it slip away like that. Although it wasn’t ideal, we found out a lot about ourselves today and will use that in the tournament on Saturday.”