Wahconah volleyball outlasts Taconic in 5-set thriller
DALTON — The Wahconah volleyball team lost nearly 10 key contributors from last season's squad. It was going to take some time for coach Dave Lussier's crew to get things going this fall.
On Monday night at home, it took about four and a half sets.
The Warriors came back from four games down to beat Taconic in the decisive game and take the match 3-2.
Wahconah won 19-25, 25-20, 14-25, 25-13, 15-5 to improve to 2-1.
The Braves, who had Wahconah on the ropes after a dominant third set, drop to 0-2.
Coach Jen Doerle said her team just didn't come out with the killer instinct it needed to in the fourth set, and left the door open too wide for a home Wahconah team that feasted on momentum.
"For some reason that side, we didn't do well all night. Our energy dropped and we couldn't get it back," said Doerle. "All of a sudden, couldn't pass. Had to get a good pass to the setter.
"Just missing that drive to punch through."
Sophomore Kassidy Krejmas picked up a couple early points in the fourth, forcing Doerle to call timeout down 5-2. Taconic responded, drawing back to within one, but a pair of aces from Gabrielle Frydel pushed the Warriors ahead 11-6. Frydel, a junior outside hitter, held service for 10 straight points. Another timeout stalled that momentum, but by then Wahconah led the fourth set 15-6.
Taconic closed the gap back to five on a Delaney Ivas kill, but Faith Wehner scored back-to-back aces to set up Frydel's set-sealing hit.
Both county squads feature a host of new faces, and thus a bunch of unforced errors hampered the match.
Despite their 12-point victory in the fourth set to tie the match, Wahconah couldn't calibrate hits in the fifth. Three straight swats landed out of bounds and another solid volley by Taconic put the Braves in the driver's seat 4-0.
Lussier burned a timeout to settle his girls down.
"Story all night long was giving away points, and that's how we started out the fifth set. They weren't finishing their swings," said Lussier. "So we just talked about keeping it in play and being smart. They regrouped pretty quickly."
Wahconah exited the break with a kill from senior T Warren, and consecutive aces by Kaylee O'Bryan.
"We realized we needed to start communicating to each other," said senior captain Rachel Kays. "The bench needed to talk it up, we needed communication on the court, and I think that helped. Just little chatter here and there."
The teams were tied at 5-5, but Ivas' strong serve sailed just long and service went back to the hosts, and Warren in particular. The Warriors wouldn't relinquish. Nicole Trova had a big dig to help them reach 8-5, and the court switch did little to slow them down. Frydel and Krejmas caught fire and dominated the middle of the net, earning four consecutive points. Warren sealed the deal with a match-point ace.
"I think they're awesome. Both of those girls have so many skills in so many different parts of the game," said Kays. "Once they got that confidence boost, they shot through the roof and that helped us out."
Taconic scored the first point in each of the first three sets. Right out of the gate the Braves asserted themselves with a 5-1 lead on the strength of kills by Ivas and Julianna Huxtable. Victoria Tynan got into a groove in the middle and Kacie Chadwell's service brought home a first-set win.
Set 2 was a nail-biter that saw the two teams tied at 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19, before Frydel's serve overpowered the Braves and Trova brought it home.
The third was all Taconic, though. Ivas and Ava Sinopoli flexed their hitting muscle, and Jenyka Ostellino had the steady service hand to keep Wahconah on its heels.
Mike Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @CLNS_Walsh on Twitter and 413-496-6240.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.