As Wednesday’s match between neighborhood volleyball rivals Greenwich Academy and Sacred Heart Greenwich progressed, GA’s momentum mounted and by the midway point of the third set, it was well on its way toward achieving what has been a familiar result of late.
Victorious in its previous two matches heading into its contest against Sacred Heart, Greenwich Academy added a third straight decisive win to its record, sweeping the visiting Tigers, 3-0. The triumph raised the Gators’ record to 5-2, heading into Saturday’s home match against Miss Porter’s School.
“This was a really good mental win for us,” Greenwich Academy senior tri-captain/outside hitter Evie Kay Girard said. “Sacred Heart is a good competitor, they’ve always been one of our biggest rivals. When we first scrimmaged them, we won in five sets and we were talking how much we’ve grown as a team since then, winning in three sets now. The improvement we’ve made starting from preseason has been really fun to see.”
Greenwich Academy, which was coming off wins over Masters School and Hotchkiss School, won the match, 25-23, 25-16, 25-12.
“When we started off the season, we had a lot of new players, it was a different dynamic, but we’ve managed to make it work,” GA senior tri-captain/middle hitter Alexandra Trofort said. “We’ve come really far from the preseason. One of our biggest goals is to bring a lot of energy into our matches and I feel like we really did that today.”
Sacred Heart (6-6) received eight kills and one ace from senior tri-captain Emilia Bernal, six kills and six digs from junior Martina Bernal and 13 assists from freshman setter Evangelyn Forte. Caroline Hisler posted five digs, while sophomore Kaitlin Robinson had two kills and a block for the Tigers.
“We really gave so much energy in the first set and that’s what kept us in the game,” Emilia Bernal said. “We really fought in the first set. I’m grateful I’m on this team that gives us much effort.”
Both teams exhibited strong offensive play in a back-and-forth first game. With the Gators holding a 23-22 edge, Trofort posted a kill, giving her squad a two-point lead, before it closed out the set.
In the second set, the Tigers jumped out to a 4-2 lead, but strong serving from sophomore Casey Brower and kill from Trofort, put Greenwich Academy on top, 6-4. Forte kept Sacred Heart’s offense moving with some well-placed sets and the match was tied at 15-15 with Natalie Bescue serving for the Tigers. Trofort’s tip at the net gave GA the lead for good at 16-15, then the home team steadily built its advantage.
Kills by Girard gave GA leads of 20-15 and 23-16, then Brower closed out the second game by pounding a kill.
Indeed, GA has adopted a style of play that’s begun to work well.
“The season is going well, we probably have one of the shortest and smallest teams I’ve had in 20 years,” Greenwich Academy coach Christy Girard said. “So, we are running a faster offense and Maddie Mendicina (sophomore setter) did a terrific job of running different options of hitting from different positions of the court.”
The third set saw GA take the lead for good at 8-7 on Trofort’s kill. Girard, Natalie Bunnell and Alicia Qin added effective serving to help the Gators seize control of the final set.
“We are working on staying as disciplined as we can on the court and being as purposeful as we can with everything we do on the court, while staying energetic,” Trofort said.
“We probably have one of the shortest and smallest teams in the FAA and we really try to do our best to play to our potential, to play up and we just play smart,” Evie Kay Girard added.
Sacred Heart, which visits Kent School on Saturday, knows it must keep its consistency up throughout each game in every match.
“For us, it’s about keeping up the momentum off of good plays,” Tigers senior tri-captain/outside hitter Jules Ingram said. “Once we get a good kill or someone gets a good dig, our energy skyrockets. In the second and third sets, we couldn’t maintain the momentum.”
It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Gators and Tigers square off again, this time in the FAA Tournament. The teams have faced each on a number of occasions in the postseason over the years.
“I’m hopeful we can play them again,” Ingram said. “It’s always a fun, competitive game against them and I feel we could come back and be stronger if we play them again.”
Evie Kay Girard, who has committed to play volleyball at the University of New Haven and Trofort are in their fifth season on the varsity team. They earned spots on the varsity squad as eighth graders and their respective roles have increased each season.
“We looked up so much to our captains in previous years and we have been waiting for this moment for a long time,” Girard said of being one of the team’s captains. “We don’t look at its as being above anyone on the team, there are six people on the court and everyone is working together. We are here to help our team grown every day. Also, we want to grow the sport here at GA. It’s been fun to see the team grow and learn from our mistakes each game.”