Resilient Hawks Bounce Monarchs
University rallies from seven and eight point deficits
MOUNDSVILLE — No John Marshall lead was safe from University Tuesday night as a resilient Hawks volleyball team fought back from deficits as big as seven and eight points to bounce the Monarchs from the OVAC semifinals, winning three sets to one (25-16, 23-25, 25-22, 27-25).
“We were down every time,” said University coach Don Godfrey. “The thing about volleyball is it’s about momentum, it swings so much.”
Playing in the John Marshall field house, the first set was the least dramatic of the night. After a back-and-forth start, the Hawks (13-5) used a 5-1 run midway through to build an 18-12 lead and then coasted to a 25-16 victory.
The Monarchs (10-5) came out firing in set two and exploded to an early 11-4 lead. The Hawks fought back, however, and scored five straight points on the serve of Laney Haddad to make the score 11-9. JM responded with a timeout and quickly rebuilt their lead on the serve of Landyn Helms, going back up 14-9.
No matter what the Monarchs did, however, University would not go away. The Hawks eventually tied the score at 19-19 and fought the Monarchs all the way to the end, just barely dropping the set 25-23.
“That was big,” said JM coach Cathleen Harr. “We’ve struggled with allowing other teams to get a lead on us and then fighting to come back. It was good to get the lead in the beginning.”
JM senior Isabella Linton was all over the floor in the second set, throwing her body around to keep the ball alive on several occasions.
“It’s her style,” Harr said. “She’s done it probably as long as she’s played volleyball but at least as long as she’s played in high school. She goes all out.”
Linton finished the match with five digs and three kills.
Set three was the most even set of the night. The biggest lead either team built was just four points, when John Marshall led 19-15 partway through. The teams were tied eight separate times throughout the set and as late as 20-20.
University took a 23-20 lead and fought hard to hold on and win 25-22.
“Our problem’s been all year that we get down and stay down,” Godfrey said. “They got down a little bit, but they picked themselves up.”
University hitter Sydney Reed picked up five of her 11 kills in the third set.
In the fourth set, John Marshall again got out to a big lead, going up 10-6 in the early going. They continued to add on and eventually led 16-8 at one point.
Like they did all match, however, University found a way to battle back. The Hawks went on an 11-3 run to tie the set at 19-19. They were powered by serves from Haddad and Norah Chase, who finished the match with 15 and 11 service points, respectively.
From there, it was a complete slugfest to the end. University went up 24-21 only for JM to come back and tie the game at 24. They went back and forth until University finally strung two points together to win 27-25 and take the match.
With the win, University advances to the OVAC Class 5A finals Saturday at Union Local. They will play the winner of Dover and Morgantown, who play later tonight.
“We made some (lineup) changes last night and some of them were pouting,” Godfrey explained. “But they picked themselves up and they came out to play tonight. They played hard, they hustled, they made some mistakes, but they hung in there and fought. We were down 10-4 at one time but they battled back and I’m proud of them.”
Sierra Lanham led the Hawks with 15 kills, followed by Reed and Mulhall both with 11. Lauren Brandt finished with 38 assists.
John Marshall will have about a week off and return to action on Oct. 21, hosting a tri-match with Brooke and Morgantown.
“I’m a little disappointed because not everyone played their best game tonight.,” Harr said. “When you’re playing a tough opponent, you need every player to play one of their best games.”
Lilie Babiczuk led the Monarchs with eight kills, Hannah Gaiser had five kills and four aces, Sybil Willis had 15 digs and Helms had 17 digs and two aces.