Before Tuesday night’s SCAA volleyball opener the Camden-Frontier Redskins huddled together and shouted, “One, two, three — our house!”
The Hillsdale Academy Colts either didn’t hear them or more likely, really didn’t care.
The Redskins were a mistake-prone squad at times Tuesday and the Colts resiliency and consistency led them to a four-set win in a conference opener between two of the division’s best programs.
With senior captain Grace Leutheuser and junior Heather Lantis leading the way the Colts moved to 3-2-1 overall and 1-0 in the SCAA with a 25-16, 25-22, (12-25), 25-21 win.
“They were really pumped up for this game so it was awesome that we got that win. They worked hard in practice, we were really focused on them, we knew it was going to be a tough competition and it was a big win,” Academy coach Katherine Jones said.
Jones said her team really gelled at the Tecumseh tournament over the weekend and they are starting to communicate and play better as a whole.
The second game may have been the most crucial of them all, as the Colts held off a late rally and proved their mettle to take a 2-0 lead.
They took a 22-15 lead in that set, but the Redskins (3-3-2) clawed back by scoring seven of the next eight points.
Ultimately though, C-F had two unforced errors in the Colts’ final three points and Jones was able to breath a sigh of relief.
“Having that two game lead…we could kind of relax a little in the third game,” she said. “We relaxed a little too much but it made it a lot better having those games under our belt because we knew the pressure was on them so it was easier.”
Redskins coach Dawn Follis said taking the second set may have turned the contest around, but ultimately her girls have no one to blame for the loss except themselves.
“Volleyball is such a momentum sport and game that it’s up and down, so it would’ve helped (to win the second set.) With good skilled teams like Hillsdale Academy you can’t always count on momentum though because their skills will come through and stop that momentum,” she said. “We made a lot of our own mistakes. I was tracking to see what was going on…(Hillsdale Academy) kept the ball in, we made a lot of our own mistakes definitely.
Follis’ team showed plenty of life in an easy third game win, but the taller, more experienced Colts were too much to handle in the final set.
Leutheuser led the Colts with 11 kills on the night, and despite a nagging injury, Jones said the team is really counting on her explosiveness and leadership.
“She’s being a good captain, she’s helping all the other girls around her and we go to her a lot so she has to be ready for anything,” Jones said. “Right now her ankle is hurt; she hurt it in July and it’s still swollen all the time and she has trouble with that and we’re watching that hoping it’s not getting too bad, resting her if we can. She’s our go-to girl though so she just has to be confident with everything she does.”
Lantis led the team with 19 assists, Callie Watkins had 11 digs and senior Laura Wonders used her length to drive home some key kills in the win.
For C-F Megan Schwartzengraber was all over the place, digging the ball up off the court and effectively placing powerful shots over the net. She tallied 12 digs and nine kills on the night.
Danielle Abney had eight kills, eight digs and three aces, while Morgan Warfield contributed 12 assists, seven digs and two aces. Effie Smith had 10 digs.
Despite a frustrating outcome for her girls, Follis’ said it was a good learning experience for everyone involved.
“I’d rather play up all the time, I want good teams to come into our gym to play, so I’d always rather have strong teams, because then you know what you’re weak at and the teams that are weaker are harder to dissect yourself against,” she said.
There is no time to dwell on this loss for C-F as they head to North Adams-Jerome for a league contest at 6:30 p.m. tonight. Follis said she expects the Rams to be competitive as usual and another great chapter to be added to the rivalry.
“I just told (my team) it’s good when we don’t win because we can see what we’re weak at and that’s what we’re going to get stronger at. Now we know what we need to do, it’s no longer a question,” she said “You’ve got to look forward you can’t look back, just learn from your mistakes and move on. It’s going to be even louder tomorrow night.”