Serving 13 straight points in the third set, Ridley Warner ’22 propelled Andover Girls Volleyball to a victory over Milton in three sets (25-21, 25-13, 25-8) last Saturday. With only one remaining game, Andover’s record currently stands at 13-3.
According to Head Coach Clyfe Beckwith and Delaney Arkell ’22, Andover held control throughout the match.
“[The team] felt in control of the match the entire time. We had a stronger skill set to begin with and a lot more confidence given our respective season records,” wrote Coach Beckwith in an email to The Phillipian.
“The overall feeling of the game was pretty light-hearted and fun, especially in the third set. I thought that our team was controlling the points for a majority of the match,” Arkell wrote in an email to The Phillipian. “
Despite the score, there were still some challenges that the team needed to adapt to, particularly the type of ball used. Instead of the Molten-brand volleyballs that Andover typically uses, the Tachikara-brand balls used during the game were lighter, forcing Andover to adjust its playstyle, according to Captain Chioma Ugwonali ’20.
Ugwonali wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “The game got off to a slow start. The Tachikara balls were more floaty than the Molten balls we use. It was a light game because Milton’s team was not very strong, but we struggled with focusing and minimizing our errors at times.”
“In the first set it took us a while to get our own rhythm, adjusting to the different lighting, different type of match ball… Once our defense stopped overpassing the ball we could strategize our offense better,” said Coach Beckwith.
With the regular season winding down, Andover looks to recognize and minimize its weaknesses.
“One challenge we have is digging the ball after a serve, executing a kill, and being able to defend the first attack from the opponents. Sometimes the opposing team will catch us off guard and tip or roll shot a ball into an empty spot on the court when we are on our heels. We have improved in our agility since the beginning of the season, but we have the potential to do better,” said Ugwonali.
“When leading by a lot, we try to still run a lot of aggressive offensive plays to keep our heads in the game… We need to work on our tip coverage and serve return,” said Arkell.
According to Ugwonali, the team will look to carry its momentum and confidence into its tough matchup against Phillips Exeter Academy this weekend.
“We enjoy every win, but we also take the time to reflect on how we can improve and what did not work during the game. Our wins give us confidence, but not hubris,” said Ugwonali.
Exeter, currently seeded number one, has an undefeated record and will require much preparation and focus on Andover’s behalf, according to Arkell.
“The team wants to practice attacking almost every ball and playing solid defense so we can run more middles… Especially while preparing for Exeter, we are looking at and practicing specifically for their stronger plays,” said Arkell.
Andover will head to Exeter this Saturday for its annual Andover/Exeter matchup.