The Upper Dublin Cardinals scored six unanswered points to fight off Gwynedd Mercy Academy Friday, taking the fifth set, 15-11, and the match in a non-league volleyball match.
"When we stay up and play together, we can achieve great things,' Upper Dublin coach Meg Goetter said after the Cardinals won 25-21, 20-25, 25-17, 14-25, 15-11. "We weren't going to let this one get away.'
The match began with a timid and sloppy first set, rife with errors for both sides. However, the Cardinals proved to be the more vocal and organized team and claimed the first set 25-21. Taylor Stek was the most productive player in the set for the Cardinals, as she unleashed several blistering kills at the net. She finished with 10 kills, five blocks, and five aces for the match.
"We didn't play to our full potential and it started with communication,' GMA coach Alex Notaristefano said. "We have to come out playing hard all the time. We've had four matches this week and I think we let up a little today.'
The Lady Monarchs countered in the second set, as they grew more confident in their offense. Natalie Pisch, who led GMA with 15 kills for the match, helped the Lady Monarchs find their rhythm. But down the stretch, it was Abigail Kress who came up with two crucial kills to win the set, including a monster spike at set point.
In the third game, the Cardinals took advantage of the indecision of GMA on several long rallies. Sarah Dennin found the holes in the Lady Monarchs defense to take the last two winners for the Cardinals, who took the game 25-17.
The roles were quickly reversed in the fourth set, with GMA finding the right spots for kills. Upper Dublin also hurt its cause early and often with several unforced errors.
GMA claimed the game convincingly, 25-14.
In the fifth set, clutch performances from Taylor D'Ginto and Gabby Johnson proved to be all the difference the Cardinals needed to squeak out the victory. D'Ginto, who led the Cardinals with 16 assists, placed a couple of important kills at the net for Upper Dublin and Johnson served out the set strong. The Cardinals were clearly the more composed team down the stretch.
"We did really well controlling the ball on our side of the net,' Johnson said.
If hustle was kept on the stat sheet, Johnson would have been the leader for the day. Johnson dove after every stray ball, whether she could get a touch to it or not. Her effort kept the Cardinals in many points they otherwise would not have not been in. The sophomore made sure to lead by example for her team, but also vocally when needed.
"When I hustle I tell my team to settle down and focus on the next point,' Johnson said.
Johnson led the Cardinals with five digs, while adding four aces and six kills.
Upper Dublin improved to 3-1 with the win and faces Wissahickon in its next match.