<b1>By Paul Frommelt
In each of the three games Woodson volleyball had against Stone Bridge on Monday, the Cavaliers were taking leads into the second half. In the first game, Woodson led 11-6, before losing 20-25. They took an 11-7 lead into the second half of the next game before being outscored 18-4 and losing 25-15. The Cavaliers were even on top on the third game 11-8, before dropping to Stone Bridge 26-24. Three promising games for the Cavaliers turned into a three-game sweep for the Bulldogs.
“It just took us a little while to get settled in and get into a rhythm. Once we did, we can control the tempo and the outcome,” said Stone Bridge head coach Jill Raschiatore.
One reason for the Bulldogs' slow start was the early absence of their senior middle hitter Marianne Bell. In the final seconds of the team’s pregame warm-up. Bell was hit in the eye with a volleyball and was unable to use the eye that was hit.
“She literally couldn’t open her eye. She missed the first half of the game before she could open it,” said Raschiatore. “She tends to spark us [with] her play and her inspiration, whether it’s a block or a hit.”
Quality serves helped the Bulldogs claw their way back into the first game. Senior Brooke Reichel served nine straight points for the Bulldogs, including two aces.
“It just so happened where they had a good server back there and she racked [a bunch of points] in a row,” said Woodson head coach Len Palaschak.
The second game, senior setter Emily Hindman served 11 straight points to help the Bulldogs take the lead. Bell had four kills during Stone Bridge’s comeback.
The Bulldogs were also helped by the unforced errors of the Cavaliers. The more points the Bulldogs scored, the more the Cavs became frustrated and careless.
“We have been dealing with unforced errors all year and I think that we brought them down to half in this game,” said Palaschak.
WHILE NOT JUMPING out to a big lead in the third game, the Cavs played the Bulldogs close the entire time. Strong play from senior setter Jenna Palaschak and junior outside hitter Madeleine Breeland helped Woodson play Stone Bridge to a 24-24 tie before the Bulldogs finished the game with two straight points.
“It seemed that we got a little tired and that’s something that we need to work on – keeping our stamina up, especially against good teams like this,” said the younger Palaschak of the Cavaliers’ blown leads.
The win keeps the Bulldogs undefeated in the Liberty District at 4-0 and 10-5 overall. Woodson drops to 4-1 in the district and 9-3 overall.
“I’m pleased with the way that we have played. Stone Bridge is a tough team. We gave them a game and the girls know that they can play against them and that is key,” said Palaschak. “Last year, Stone Bridge blew us away. This year, we gave them a game.”