Andover Avenges Early-Season Loss and Comes Back to Spike St. Paul’s

With seven saves and 35 out of 38 digs, Volleyball Co-Captain Jamie Shenk ’12 was the cornerstone of Andover’s defense in its match against St. Paul’s School this Wednesday.

Coupled with strong offensive plays by Alexi Bell ’13, who hit a perfect 26 out of 26 attempts, the two players were critical in helping Andover defeat St. Paul’s.

Andover started the game slowly and lacked energy. The team had trouble keeping up with St. Paul’s fast-paced game. Shenk said, “We definitely could have done better on serve receive. St. Paul’s started to go on runs when we struggled to pass a good ball on serve receive, which really hurt us. We also started the first set moving really slowly and making some lazy mistakes, but I think once the adrenaline kicked in we started to fire up more.”

The team quickly fell behind St. Paul’s, down 1-7 and then 7-18. Despite its opponents decisive lead, Andover refused to give up, and after a few good kills and a service run, the team pulled together, losing by a much narrower margin of five points in the first set.

Shenk said, “[In the middle of the first game,] Coach Hawthorne, called us into the huddle and just asked us matter of factly if we wanted to win, which I think spurred us to fight harder, hit the ground for every ball and go up strong for every swing. I think that was the main difference. We played like we had nothing to lose, putting all our effort into every single point rather than playing scared and safe.”

Carrying its fighting spirit over into the next set, Andover brought up its energy and maintained a secure lead all throughout the game. Keeping St. Paul’s behind by two or more points, Andover played strategically, dropping tips in the holes of St. Paul’s defense rather than hitting hard right at the defensive line. The team won the game 25-18.

Andover carried its newfound momentum into the third set, starting out with a 6-1 advantage. Andover dominated the game, crushing St. Paul’s 25-11.

The start of the fourth set did not look promising, but Andover pulled ahead from behind when Lucia McGloin ’13 served six consecutive points. With her serves, Andover was able to power through the last game, winning the set 25-19.

When Andover played St. Paul’s earlier this season, they lost in a close match. Co-Captain Chelsea Ward ’12, who had an impressive 28 assists, said, “We played with more energy and passion this time around. We were able to pump up the energy when it called for it.” Her only critique was that the team “needs to start off with the same energy that we end with. That’s been our problem all season.”

With only three more games left this season, Andover will host Lawrence Academy this Friday.