St. Mary’s volleyball stumbles after opening set in loss to Spellman

St. Mary's Captain Grace Fielding (left) keeps the ball alive as teammate Gabby Torres watches. (Item Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

LYNN — Despite grabbing an early lead with a win in the opening set, the St. Mary’s volleyball team simply lost momentum due to a number of unforced errors and fell to Catholic Central League rival Cardinal Spellman, 3-1, Tuesday evening at Conigliaro Gymnasium. The Spartans fell by set scores of 25-14, 13-25, 4-25, 18-25.

“We were definitely up and down in this match, but I liked the way we played out there,” said St. Mary’s assistant coach Ivanna Nunez. “This is actually the best I’ve seen us play against Spellman, who is one of the top teams in the league this year. The first set went very well, but in the end we just couldn’t keep it going.”

The opening set didn’t get off to the best start for the Spartans, as they found themselves behind 5-1 in short order. But after rallying to tie the score at 5-5, St. Mary’s rode that momentum throughout the rest of the set. The Spartans quickly jumped ahead 15-8 and then 20-12, seemingly making all the right moves on every volley. After a big kill by Gabby Torres, the Spartans captured the first set 25-14.

“The first set was good for us, it was a great way to build momentum for the rest of the match,” Nunez said. “Unfortunately the energy kind of died down after that and we were really ever able to get it back.”

Spellman came right out early in the second set and took a quick 7-2 lead, eventually growing that lead to 15-8 before St. Mary’s called a timeout to regroup. While the Spartans came out of the timeout and went on a 4-1 run, it wasn’t enough to stop the Cardinals’ momentum. After taking a quick timeout of its own, Spellman went on a 9-1 run to close out the second set, 25-13.

The third set was barely a contest, as the Cardinals started really clicking on all cylinders. Spellman jumped out to another 7-2 lead, which forced another Spartans timeout. Unfortunately for St. Mary’s, this time the timeout didn’t help. Spellman came out of the timeout and stretched its lead even further, to as many as 14 points before St. Mary’s notched another point. After a kill by Spellman’s Alyssa Dansby, the Cardinals took the third set 25-4.

The fourth set once again started with a flurry of points for Spellman, as the Cardinals jumped out to a quick 8-1 lead and forced St. Mary’s to call another timeout. But, as was the case in the third set, the timeout didn’t do much to help the Spartans. Spellman continued to build its lead, going up 15-4 before St. Mary’s went on a small run to keep things interesting. But in the end the Cardinals were able to quell any momentum that the Spartans tried to build, and after a kill by Carly Fisher Spellman took the set, 25-18, and the match.

For St. Mary’s, there were moments in the match that showed the Spartans have some positives to build on. But Nunez knows that they’ll have to continue to work if they want to compete against the best teams in the league.

“I think we just have to work on keeping up the energy and not losing momentum once we get it on our side,” Nunez said. “The first set showed that we can certainly compete against good teams, but the amount of errors and momentum-killing plays is what keeps holding us back. So hopefully we can continue to work to improve those things.”

The Spartans (3-2) visit CCL rival Bishop Fenwick Thursday (5).

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