The Robinson volleyball team was six points shy of sweeping Centreville on senior night when the Rams encountered an unexpected variable, equal parts terrifying and amusing and capable of slowing them down. Up two sets to none and leading 19-8 in the third, Robinson players screamed and dispersed as a large spider crawled across their side of the court.
"I’m going to have nightmares," senior Susie Murach joked after the match.
The floor official walked over and saved the day, stepping on the arachnid before using an object to scoop up its body and carry it off the court.
"It was huge," Robinson head coach Jill Pearson said. "It was one of the most bizarre things, ever. We’re standing there and all of the sudden the girls look at me and I’m like, ‘I don’t really want to have anything to do with it.’ Thank goodness the referee went over there and took care of it. [I don’t have] arachnophobia, but still, that thing was massive.
"It was hilarious."
The rest of the evening went smoothly for the Rams, who finished off the Wildcats 3-0 (25-14, 25-20, 25-13) during their final home match of the season on Oct. 26. The win improved Robinson’s record to 10-7, 4-0 in the Concorde District. The Rams, ranked No. 4 in the Oct. 18 edition of the Northern Region Volleyball Coaches Association top-10 poll, will close the regular season with a match at Westfield at 7:15 p.m. on Oct. 28.
While there’s still volleyball to be played, seven Robinson seniors took part in their final home match on Tuesday: outside hitter Murach, setters Tiffany Connatser and Frannie Nejako, middle blocker Samantha Guckert, libero Kelsey Patel, defensive specialist Elena Patel and opposite hitter Katie Spence. Murach led Robinson with 15 kills.
"It kind of stinks," Murach said. "I’ve been playing [on varsity] since my freshman year. That’s my last home game. It just sucks."
Murach, the 2009 region player of the year and a first-team all-state selection, will play at Wingate University in North Carolina next year.
"Defensively, passing, and of course her attack and serve. She’s a great all-around player," Pearson said of Murach’s strengths. "So many teams camp out on her so early and know that she’s our go-to girl. Her ability to hit any shot with any set that she gets has definitely been a big asset."
Connatser, a second-team all-district selection as a junior, is the team’s starting setter and finished with 28 assists.
"Tiffany, in my opinion, is definitely one of the top two best setters in the region," Pearson said. "Her ability to get to balls and put up a great set for girls to hit is huge."
Kelsey Patel and Elena Patel are known for their defense.
"Our Patel twins," Pearson said, "their defense and how smart they are and their ability to make adjustments to other teams’ offenses is awesome."
Pearson said Guckert’s efforts often go unnoticed at the net.
"Sam, our middle, is arguably one of the top three defensive middles," the coach said. "People kind of don’t see her because she has more of a defensive mindset."
Junior middle Chance Rye recorded eight kills, three solo blocks and three block assists against Centreville, junior outside hitter Brenna Dolan had four and junior outside hitter Paige Brindley and Connaster had three. Guckert and Spence each recorded two kills.