PITTSFIELD -- The Taconic volleyball team defeated Commerce 3-0 in a Western Mass. Division II first round match.
The match between fifth-seeded Taconic and the No. 12 Red Raiders was a quick affair, resolved in exactly an hour on Saturday afternoon. On their home court in the Taconic gymnasium, the Braves swept visiting Commerce 25-18, 27-15, 25-18.
The first set win for the Braves featured several well-placed kills by Haley Hubbard. Springfield did not help themselves by repeatedly losing possession via poor service, something the Braves took advantage of whenever given the chance.
Taconic fell behind 9 to 5 in the second game after a series of mistakes and poor serves. Working their way back to tie it at 13, the Braves and Red Raiders traded leads to a 25-25 tie, with clutch plays by Isabelle George and Kate Proudy swinging the momentum back to Taconic.
Good service by, as well as the set ending play by Kirsten McNeice won Taconic the second game.
Taconic coach Jennifer Doerle said her team "had to settle down a bit in the second set. In order to win that one we had to play our game and not theirs, get better about sets, and stay positive."
Gary Mindell’s Red Raiders had several strong players who proved to be problematic for the Braves in the third game, despite their diminutive stature.
Lia Diaz’s service quickly opened up an 8-3 lead for Commerce that was finally stopped by a spike from Taconic’s Haley Hubbard, leading to a tied game at 9. Methodical sets by Jackie Kays ensured rapid scoring by the Braves to a 23-15 lead.
The last two points were by no means a foregone conclusion for the Braves as Commerce’s Jayzabel Torres, a playmaker throughout the match, consecutively converted several digs to bring her team within five points of Taconic. By then it was too late for Springfield, and a barrage of powerful returns by Nyanna Slaughter and McNeice completed Taconic’s sweep of Springfield.
Doerle was enthusiastic about her team’s advance to the quarterfinals.
"We didn’t really know what [Commerce] would be like as we’d never seen them before, so we were just preparing ourselves for anything," the coach said. "The past several days we’d been working on serve-receive and that seemed to work for us.
"Once we started hitting the ball with some power right down the middle, we felt much more confident in that last set. Whether we are up against [Longmeadow] or Holyoke in the next round, our goal is to execute what we’ve worked on, which is what we did here today."