Special to The Eagle
WILLIAMSTOWN -- St. Joseph’s senior Maddie Roulier walked back to the service line, took a few deep breaths, and hit three of the biggest serves of the match.
Roulier’s serves weren’t aces, but they carried too much velocity for Mount Greylock’s back line to handle effectively. With those crucial points, the Crusaders were able to inch ahead with a 21-20 lead that they wouldn’t surrender in the final set of a 25-13, 25-19, 15-25, 25-21 victory on Wednesday.
"My coach said to look for the players that couldn’t receive the ball as well," said Roulier. "I tried to find the holes."
The Crusaders dominated the first set after jumping out to a lead with Roulier’s big serves. St. Joseph’s went on a 5-0 run midway through the set and the Mounties’ errors prevented them from rallying back.
In the second set, both teams seemed to shed the nerves and engaged in some longer rallies. The Mounties gave St. Joseph’s all they could handle, as the two exchanged points and the momentum. But in the end, a few late errors at the net cost the home team the second set.
"We were trying to cover the middle," St. Joseph’s coach Peter Strack said. "We had a few good blocks. Defensively we were strong."
In the third set, the Mounties managed to contain the offensive prowess of Roulier and jumped to a 7-0 lead. Mount Greylock senior Michala Dean served up several aces in the set, finishing with 10 aces, 16 kills, 14 digs, and 10 assists for the match. The home crowd and the Mounties’ bench cheered Mount Greylock onto a convincing set win.
Though morale was low for the Crusaders late in the third set, they were able to regain their focus and jump out to an early 6-0 lead. Inaccurate and illegal sets plagued the Mounties throughout, although they remained organized defensively. Eighth grader Dagney Albano even contributed a couple digs in the match for the home team. But Roulier, who finished with 15 kills and five aces, proved to be too much of an offensive force for the Mounties to contain. Junior Virginia Goggins provided strong sets for Roulier the whole match, as she finished with 19 assists and three aces of her own.
"They played a good game and talked to each other," said Strack.
Roulier noted that until a recent team dinner, the Crusaders were not as cohesive on the court and didn’t even circle together during the match. But she says that they are now a more bonded team and the results have showed it.
"I think we did great tonight," Roulier said.