(Newburyport MA) Call it the curse of Senior Night if you will.
The Clippers celebrated their seniors and then lost three straight sets to rival Triton on Monday night in Cape Ann League volleyball.
“It was extremely disappointing,” said NHS coach Lori Solazzo afterwards. “We didn’t come out the way we usually do.”
The Vikings (4-12) took advantage of Newburyport subpar play in game one as they broke an 8-8 tie with ten straight points. Evelyn Pearson was the server for Triton during the run. Caitie Rooney tipped in several winners for the Vikings. The Clippers (4-13) lost the first set, 25-12.
The second set was much more competitive after Triton raced off 22-14. Paige Volpone and Colleen McCarthy paced the Vikings to what looked like a comfortable spread. But sophomore Abby Gillingham served the home team into contention and forced a Triton timeout. The Clippers would get to within a point (24-23) on big plays by Melaina Lucci and Sydney Yim. The visitors nailed down the final point after a lengthy, exciting volley to grab the second set 25-23.
Sophomore server Sydney Yim carried the Clippers to leads of 10-4 and 21-13 in the third set.
“We didn’t give up even though down 21-13 in the third set,” recalled Triton coach Bob Van Etten. “We just picked away and came back and took it.”
The Vikings put nine unanswered points together and after a Colleen McCarthy winner led, 22-21. An Abby Gillingham block gave Newburyport the serve with a 24-23 deficit but again after a long volley the Vikings gained the point they needed to win the set and the match.
Viking captain Caitie Rooney was excited about the win. “A win over Port is always a big win. Everyone stepped up especially Mia (Berardino), Evelyn (Pearson), and Colleen (McCarthy). Those were our hitters and they played like out of the park tonight.”
Coach Van Etten: “It was very much a team effort but Caitie Rooney had an outstanding match.”
Coach Solazzo: “We let them in several times, point by point. Volleyball is such a team sport that you have to trust that your teammate will be where they’re supposed to be. Once that trust gets lost it gets into your head and you fall apart a little.”
The Vikings and the Clippers met previously on October 1st. Triton took that one 3-1. “It was a close match that could have gone either way,” recalled Coach Van Etten.
Newburyport is in its second season of volleyball. Last year the brand-new Clippers finished 1-15. Their win? The last game of the season against Triton. Excited? “It was a five-set match and it was like winning the World Series for us,” said Coach Solazzo.
Full disclosure. This was the first volleyball game I have ever covered. If you’re looking for digs, reception errors etc., you’ve come to the wrong place. Even taking pictures was a challenge because the game is very fast, and the players closest had their backs to me. It was an adventure for sure, but I enjoyed it.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)