(Newburyport) “It looked as if our season was going to be over a little earlier than we thought,” was how Newburyport senior Sophie Messina explained their tight tussle with Bishop Fenwick on Friday night.
The #3 seed Clippers (18-3) had their hands full and then some against the #30 seed Crusaders (8-14).
The home team was down 2-1 after three sets but rallied to escape a shocking upset in the MIAA Division 3 Round of 32.
Newburyport had twice defeated BF 3-0 going into this one.
“It was easy to see an easy win based on where we were in the bracket,” explained Fenwick coach Sam Kelly afterwards. “Our goal was to make it challenging for them.”
Mission accomplished on that!
“Bishop Fenwick definitely took it to us tonight,” said NHS coach Lori Solazzo afterwards. “I’m proud of the win but Bishop Fenwick played great.”
The set results were 22-25, 25-21, 21-25, 25-16, and 15-8.
The Clippers will return to action on Tuesday.
The keys to the early success for BF were limiting unforced errors and attacking the Clippers.
“We knew they would be running a tall front row with an aggressive attack,” said Coach Kelly. “We brought up Kylie Murphy from the JVs to start for us in her first varsity game. She played fantastic.”
Kylie is tall like her teammate sister Lacey and between them they made it difficult for Newburyport to find open shots at the net.
Both teams struggled to run points together.
“We were going point to point instead of getting some runs,” said Coach Solazzo.
Newburyport’s inability to put point together kept BF in each of the first three sets and after the Crusaders won two of them the pressure was squarely on the Clippers.
“Being down 2-1 was a little nerve wracking,” said Newburyport senior Viive Godtfredsen. “It was a matter of who was mentally tough at the end.”
Coach Solazzo credited senior Bea Cortecci with swinging things in the Clippers favor in the fourth set.
“Bea pulled us through in that 4th set with her aces and kills,” Coach Sollazzo said. “It was the turning point for the team for sure.”
Once the Clippers were back even after four sets the momentum switched completely in the 15-point final set. Several miscues gave Newburyport a quick 4-0 lead. Then it was 8-3 and 10-3. The final was 15-8.
“Passing was a struggle the first couple of sets,” said Sophie Messina afterwards. “Setter Emma Foley was running all over the place. In the 4th and 5th sets we were able to get passes closer to the net and score off of that. A win is a win. We’ll take it.”
“We’re excited to keep going and get as far as we can,” said Vive Godtfredsen.
Sophie Messina had 17 kills. Bea Cortecci had 16 kills and 10 aces. Viive Godtfredsen had 15 kills while Lily LeDuc added 14 kills.