Notorious for her killer spikes, outside hitter Alex Becker ’15 rocketed the ball past her opponents to score Andover’s match point against Northfield Mount Hermon (NMH), closing out the third set 25-20. With a hit percentage of 82 percent and ten kills in the match, Becker was an unstoppable offensive force in Andover’s victory.
Andover defeated NMH in three straight sets this past Saturday, bringing its record to 4-1.
Andover took the lead from the start of the first set. A serve from Sydney Baumgardt ’16 to the back left finished the set 25-13.
“Our serves were great, very aggressive and consistent,” said Darcy Burnham ’18.
Despite ending strong in the first, Andover got off to a slow start in the second set. After alternating points up to 11-10, perfect sets from Annette Bell ’16 and powerful hits from Franziska Trautmann ’16 propelled the team forward. Bell and Trautmann worked together to bring the score to 19-11 through consistent serves and good communication. Bell had five aces in the match and Trautmann had three. Multiple blocks from Evelyn Mesler ’17 came in at a critical time to close out the set in Andover’s favor, 25-13.
Andover was slow to start in the third set. From 1-2 to 3-7, it seemed like NMH could take the set. Facing a four-point deficit, Andover picked up its intensity and communicated more effectively.
The team worked together to slowly close the gap. Strikes from Becker and digs from Erica Shin ’16 brought the score to 12-14. Shin had an impressive 45 digs on the day.
“Erica did not let anything touch the ground even when we could afford to lose the point,” said Becker.
At 14-17, Janneke Evans ’18 blocked a hit from the outside and initiated Andover’s run to 21-18. The team worked collaboratively to end the final set 25-20. This was Andover’s third time sweeping a team 3-0.
Andover’s safe lead allowed bench players to get good playing time, preparing them well for future games.
“Since we had a big lead on this team, it was not as [much] of a competition, and we were able to get everyone in and have some playtime. We would not have done this [against] Choate or Exeter,” said Evans.
“We kept playing at a fairly competitive level even when it became apparent that the competition was not going to be tough. It was really encouraging to see our serves staying strong and to see our bench come in with such enthusiasm and readiness to play,” said Becker.
Despite the victory, the team struggled to stay consistent throughout the entire match. At a few points in each set, players fell into slumps and collectively lost energy on the court.
“We could work on our timing and energy. I feel like at times we had a lot more energy and were a lot more pumped up about the game,” said Evans.
“Once we make a mistake, we begin to fall short and lose momentum, thus losing points consecutively. Overall, we are focusing on improving our mental game. For away games, we tend to come off of the bus tired and that really reflects in our play. On Sunday [against Choate], we will focus on getting our energy up from the start. It will be extremely important that we uphold it, as Choate is a tough team,” added Tiffany Bauman ’16.
To combat this weakness, Andover will focus on speeding up its offense against Choate.
“We have been running a lot of combination plays in practice, meaning that the outside, middle and right side all go for a hit at the same time. Then, the blocker won’t know who to block, and the defense as a whole won’t know who to defend. It’s the best of both worlds,” said Trautmann.
With the implementation of a new offensive mindset, Andover looks to continue its winning streak this Sunday at Choate.