In the midst of a winning season, Greenwich Academy’s volleyball team looked to add another victory to its ledger when formidable foe Hotchkiss School came to town on Saturday afternoon for a NEPSAC showdown.
The win Greenwich Academy was seeking didn’t come, but it certainly gave the visiting Bearcats all they could handle.
Tested in each set, Hotchkiss posted a hard-fought 3-1 win over Greenwich Academy, winning the match 25-19, 26-24, 13-25, 25-21.
For the season, Greenwich Academy’s record stands at 5-3.
“Hotchkiss did an incredible job,” GA first-season head coach Bryan Coloma said. “Every time we play them they come to compete and we’re learning day by day. We’re trying to get better – the girls are trying to get better every single day.”
Senior outside hitter/captain Casey Brower paced GA, recording an outstanding 16 kills, seven digs and three aces.
“Casey Brower takes on the brunt of our offense and defense,” Coloma said. “She does a good job of stepping up controlling the ball on the defensive end and taking points up front.”
Senior setter/captain Sofia Marti tallied 27 assists, eight aces and six digs for the Gators, who also received six kills, six aces and five digs from outside hitter Natalie Bunnell.
“Sofia Marti, one of our captains, is setting right now and is doing a great job of stepping up and running our offense,” Coloma said. “Hotchkiss did a great job of serving, but we came back, fought really hard and took that third set.”
Hotchkiss won a back-and-forth first game, then held off GA to win the second, 26-24, in a game in which the Gators nearly took, to seize a 2-0 lead in the match. Greenwich Academy controlled the momentum in the third set though to close to within 2-1.
Strong serving by Marti enabled GA to take a lead early in the third set, as her back-to-back aces gave the home team a 9-4 lead.
“I think we did a really good job of coming back from two lost sets,” Marti said. “We beat them 25-13, so we all got together, knew our responsibilities and did what we had to do.”
An ace by Brower, coupled by a block by Bunnell put GA on top, 13-8, prompting a Bearcats timeout.
“It came down to our serving,” Marti said. “Natalie had so many aces and Casey and I both had good runs. That definitely got us up and once we were up, we were able to put pressure on the other team and that gave us confidence to get ahead.”
Bunnell had several good serves to help close out the third set for the Gators, who received timely kills from Brower during the set.
Hotchkiss took the lead midway through the fourth game and were able to hold on for the win to close out the match.
“I think that we just have a hard time staying up and powering through the whole thing,” Brower said. “We have so much talent and so much potential we just need to find out how to channel it and make all the pieces work. But once we get that down, we’re set.”
Greenwich Academy takes the court again Wednesday when they will make a short trip to Sacred Heart Greenwich for an FAA rivalry match. The Gators are currently 5-2 in the FAA, having beaten Greenwich Country Day School, School of the Holy Child, Hopkins School, Rye Country Day School and Masters School. Their two league losses came against King School and St. Luke’s School. Sacred Heart has a league record of 4-1.
“It’s early in the season, we’ve only played a couple of games and since our first game we’ve improved so much,” Brower noted. “I’m really excited for our match against Sacred Heart. Our passing has gotten better and that’s one of the things we struggled with when we played them preseason. I think that it was just about connecting the pieces together. We have everything we need, we just need that connection.”
“All the sets were really close today,” Coloma said of his squad’s performance against Hotchkiss. “As we continue to grow and build our team culture, we’ll be able to put things together quicker. We have four freshmen rotating within the starting lineup, so we not only look good for this season, but seasons to come.”