Strong Start for Defending Champs

Rallying back from a narrow loss in the fourth set of their match, Andover Girls Volleyball took the court in the fifth and final game in a rematch of last year’s New England Championship Final and crushed a scrappy Hotchkiss team.

After an embarrassing defeat of 15-25 in the first game, Andover turned the tables on Hotchkiss in the second game to beat their opponents 25-12. Andover powered through the third game, beating Hotchkiss decisively once again. In a shocking fourth set, Andover seemed to have the game in the all wrapped up until Hotchkiss rallied for a narrow victory. Finally, with the match on the line, Andover found its rhythm again and kept the Hotchkiss team under 10 to win the final set.

On offense, outside hitter Zoe Roschach ’12 and middle blocker Alexi Bell ’13 landed the most kills in the match with 12 and 14, respectively. Playing all around, Shelby Carpenter ’12 set an outstanding 43 assists. Co-captain Jamie Shenk ’12 dug 22 balls in several impressive defensive saves.

“Looking ahead, Hotchkiss will be the team to beat in the playoffs this year. I was really impressed with their libero, and they had an outstanding defense,” said Co-Captain Chelsea Ward ’12. Competing against a strong defensive team has shown Andover the shortcomings of their offense, which the team plans to address in the coming weeks.

Earlier on Saturday, Andover played their first match against Taft. The team took an early lead in the first set and finished the game strong. But Andover became overconfident and the team’s focus lapsed in the second game, missing serve after serve and allowing Taft to come back for a win. “We need to keep the momentum and high energy that we begin the matches with. We are so enthusiastic and excited in the first game, and then we almost always have a second game rut. We know that it’s a problem, and we’re working on talking and keeping our energy up in the second game so that we won’t have that lull,” said Ward.

In the final two games of the match, Andover finally pulled itself together to finish the first match with decisive wins. Leading the way in kills was Bell with nine successful swings, and Shenk and Roaschach each slammed six kills of their own. Lucia McGloin ’13 earned two stuff blocks along with ten other successful touches. On defense, Shenk picked up every ball that came her way with a total of 22 successful digs.

A rollercoaster of highs and lows last Saturday, Andover will focus on both its mental and physical stamina through recently added conditioning and harder practices. “We’re really pushing to get stronger, faster, and better in all aspects of the game. We have so much potential, and I have high hopes for this season,” said Ward.

With one of their most anticipated and toughest matches of the season against Hotchkiss behind them, Andover is poised to have an excellent record this year. This week, Andover will play Loomis at home on Saturday and then travel to St. Paul’s next next Wednesday