Andover Girls Volleyball demonstrated its mental endurance in victories against both St. Paul’s and Northfield Mount Hermon (NMH) last week.
Andover started off strong in both games due to unanswerable serves from Kate Wincek ’14 and Lucia McGloin ’13. The team’s strong serving helped Andover to win the first set over St. Paul’s 25-15.
In the second set of the match, however, Andover had a mental lapse, allowing St. Paul’s to push ahead for a 14-11 lead. Coach Clyfe Beckwith called a timeout and the team returned to the court to side-out and close off the game with strong serves from Olivia Bren ’13. The team proceeded to win the next set decisively to secure victory.
In the match against NMH on Saturday, Andover quickly crushed its opponents 25-17 in the first set. Andover then lost its composure in the second set and went down 0-5 due to poor serve-receive. NMH took the set, but Andover rallied with a 13-1 lead in the next set thanks to Wincek’s 10 consecutive service points. These points decisively secured the game 25-10.
“We have a habit of getting into a second-game slump,” said Captain Alexi Bell ’13. “Once we start strong, we need to know how to finish strong.”
The team relies on skills perfected in practice to execute these comebacks in the second game. “We’re passing really well. We’ve definitely gotten a lot better since the first game about communicating with each other,” said Abby Chung ’13. “Of the teams we’ve faced, we’ve been able to hit a lot harder than them, which gives us a huge advantage.”
“We’re really good about distributing the ball and getting everyone involved in the plays,” said Bren. “We have been really resilient.”
Twelve kills from Alexi Bell, 16 assists from Annette Bell ’16, and 44 of 44 clean passes from Kayla Maloney ’13 on defense against St. Paul’s helped Andover crush the opponent.
Wincek’s outstanding 20 out of 20 serves proved key to beating NMH 3-1. Standout performances from Alex Becker ’15 with 22 for 25 digs and McGloin with 4 aces also kept Andover in control.
“It was really good to play NMH and St. Paul’s, because they really made us play up to their level. Games like that are always so much fun, and we really stepped up,” said Veronica Hildenbrand ’14.
“Right now, it’s largely a mental game to us because we’re pretty good skills-wise,” said Alexi Bell.
The ups and downs and variety of scores despite the wins are a source of worry to the team, but the players are trying to fix their rollercoaster play.
“In practices, we have been working on passing more consistently and accurately, which should really help us once we do get into that second-game situation,” added Alexi Bell.
The biggest challenge is yet to come for Andover as it takes on Choate on Saturday, the hardest team it played last year.