[SEE VIDEO] Five-Set Nailbiters Prepare Girls for Exeter

Kate Wincek ’14:

I.Haegg/_The Phillipian_

Mandy Reichenbach ’14 stepped up to the service line with the fate of Andover Volleyball’s game against Deerfield in her hands and blasted three serves to give Andover a 13-9 lead and the momentum it needed to close out the match 15-10.

After battling for the hard-fought five set win against Deerfield on Saturday, Andover fell to St. Paul’s on Wednesday with a score of 2-3 in a tumultuous match.

Andover stifled Deerfield’s attack and focused on consistency to win the first set 25-22.

The second set proved to be equally close. Consecutive service points from Annette Belle ’16, Co-Captain Kate Wincek ’14 and Erica Shin ’16 gave Andover the extra edge, siding out on the last point for a 25-23 win.

Momentum swung between both teams in the third set.

Co-Captain Alex Becker ’15 came down hard on her foot at the net, spraining her ankle, and had to be taken out of the game. Susan Yun ’17 stepped up to the challenge and subbed in for Becker as outside hitter.

“[Yun] did extremely well under so much pressure,” said Shin.

Despite Andover’s three match point opportunities, Deerfield held tight and took the third set 27-25.

“We were about to close out the match in the third set when Becker got hurt. We almost pulled it off, but the new chemistry on the court meant we played safe rather than gunning for it,” said Coach Clyfe Beckwith.

Going into the fourth set, Andover changed its line-up, putting Shin at outside and Katherine Krabek ’14 playing libero. Deerfield took advantage of Andover’s altered gameplan and closed out the set 25-20.

The fifth set and the match were decided in the last six points. Thanks to Reichenbach’s steadfast serves, Andover broke from 9-9 to pull ahead 13-9. Wincek served out the last point and brought home the win.

“Andover got its rhythm back by the fifth set and pulled through against Deerfield, who always seemed to find a way to make a comeback,” said Beckwith.

The team felt confident going into its match against St. Paul’s after its decisive 3-1 win against the opposing team earlier in the season.

Andover began the match with a handicap, with players on the team at unfamiliar positions. Because of her jump-preventing injury, Becker, who usually dominates at outside, played libero.

The first set foreshadowed the tight, back-and-forth match between the two teams. Andover pulled ahead at 21-19 and 23-21 until St. Paul’s sided out to ultimately take the first set 25-23.

Andover battled back to a 15-10 lead in the second set, which it ultimately won 25-19 to pull even with St. Pauls 1-1.

“We came alive in the second [set]. We put the ball into the holes, we pounded it to the back line, and we passed up balls off the net,” said Becker.

Andover came out fierce in the third set under Wincek’s leadership.

“[Wincek] was on fire, slamming a ton of balls into the back corner. Her energy really brought our playing level up,” said Shin.

The unstoppable serving trio of Reichenbach, Isabel Taylor ’15 and Eden Livingston ’15 combined for 11 service points and closed out the set 25-17.

Despite dominating the third set, Andover lost its momentum for the rest of the match. After St. Paul’s pulled ahead 10-6 in the fourth set, Andover’s offense began to crumble.

“We didn’t think St. Paul’s could come back and win, so we stopped focusing and let them get the best of us,” said Becker.

“Once we lost our momentum, we had trouble picking ourselves up and getting out of the hole,” said Shin.

St. Paul’s took the set easily 25-13 and cruised to a 15-4 lead in the fifth set.

“The match was ours to win, but we struggle with playing through the end. We took our lead for granted too soon and had to scramble,” said Wincek.

With no matches on the schedule until the team faces off against Exeter, Andover has ten days to fine-tune its plays and teamwork.

The team will finally be intact as Veronica Hildenbrand ’14 and Rebecca Federman ’14 recover from injuries just in time for the Exeter match.

“If we can play our game and are pumped up to play, we will do ourselves proud. We’re fighters and we’re ready for some good competition,” said Beckwith.