Calvert drops Chieftains
There was no Bon Jovi playing in the pregame of Calvert’s match with Hopewell-Loudon. No One Direction, no Katy Perry, not even some Air Supply.
The Calvert gymnasium sound system wasn’t functioning and there no was no music during the pregame warmups to fire up the Senecas.
Maybe that was why Calvert started its match slowly, or maybe it was just strong early play from Chieftains Courtney Burns and Shelbi Sauber.
Burns had three kills and Sauber had two kills and ace as Hopewell-Loudon built a 15-7 lead in game 1.
Then things turned.
“One play changes the whole game around,” Calvert’s Meridith Lucius said. “Once we get one play, the intensity comes up and everyone plays great together.”
It’s unclear which play that might have been. It might have been one of two aces from Megan Casale. It might have been one of two Lindsay Bickley kills. Or, it might even have been one of the five aces Lucius served.
Either way, all those plays happened as Calvert scored 18 of the final 21 points to take the opening game and cruise to a 25-19, 25-16, 25-9 victory over the Chieftains.
“I told the girls right off the bat when we came out here, ‘You can forget the records. When it’s Hopewell-Calvert you can forget what the record is,'” Calvert coach Greg Hendrix said. “I knew they were going to come out for blood. Hopewell came out there and landed the first punch on us. The girls just regrouped and Meridith Lucius stepped up and took control of the game in her service. I think she served seven or eight in a row and just gave us the momentum we needed to get over the hump. From that point the girls just put it in cruise control and just kept the pressure on Hopewell the whole time and didn’t let them breath.”
After a couple Chieftain mis-hits, Casale served a pair of aces to get Calvert within three. Lucius took the serve with her team down 17-14 and promptly served five aces. The balls that Hopewell-Loudon was able to return, Bickley slammed back down.
“We just kept playing harder,” Bickley said. “Once we got a good serve in, we just kept going. Coach always says serving is what keeps us going.”
When Lucius finally served one long to stop her streak, Calvert had taken a 21-18 lead.
“Actually, I have no clue where that serve came from,” Lucius admitted. “It just kind of happened that game. But I’m happy about it.”
Amber Perry hit a vicious kill to get her team to game-point, where Bickley and Casale both came up with diving digs before the ball was sent over the net. The Chieftains’ return was long and Calvert completed the comeback.
Hopewell-Loudon coach Krissy Lotycz said her team wasn’t able to respond after the momentum shifted to Calvert’s bench.
“We started off strong and just got in a rut with a few plays. Then it was hard to bounce back off that,” she said. “Typically we do, we just didn’t respond tonight. Bottom line, we just did not show up. That was not the same team that I’ve had the first half of the season. It looked like we took a little vacation out there. No. 1, your upperclassmen have to show up. … It wasn’t just one, all of them were off tonight. We made 40 errors, 31 of them from upperclassmen, juniors and seniors. You can’t make 40 errors at the varsity level. That’s definitely what cost us the game tonight.”
Once Calvert had the momentum, it was pretty much impossible to wrestle it from the Senecas.
“I thought that once we get pumped and excited we just keep going hard,” Bickley said.
Bickley lined four of her nine kills in the second game. Calvert raced out to a huge lead this time, 14-5. Hopewell-Loudon tried to stage its own comeback. Two kills from Sauber and two from Kassie Shaver got the Chieftains within 14-11
Lucius came up with two kills down the stretch and Perry lined two of her own as Calvert closed out the game.
Perry finished with seven kills and five blocks. Lucius led Calvert with 10 kills and eight aces. Casale tossed up 25 assists and had five aces of her own.
Calvert kept its foot on the gas in game three, closing out the match in dominant fashion.
“There’s too much talent on the other side of the net to ever let up,” Hendrix said. “I just kept screaming to keep the pressure on them. You can see as the game went on, and it kept dragging on and dragging on, their girls were starting to struggle and weren’t getting out of the funk. It was important for us to keep the pressure on them.”
“I feel like we played a mental game because they kind of fell apart at the end,” Lucius added. “We kept our spirits up and didn’t let any mistakes get to us.”
Sauber led Hopewell-Loudon with nine kills and Burns finished with eight, one of the few times this season the MAL’s kill leader (167) has been kept in single digits.
“We couldn’t find the floor tonight,” Lotycz said. “Typically my No. 1 hitter ends every ballgame with 20-25 kills. She had eight. I can’t have that from a senior leader. My go-to hitter has got to find the floor and we couldn’t do that tonight.”
Calvert stayed unbeaten in MAL play at 7-0, 11-4 overall. Hopewell-Loudon falls to 6-9, 4-3.