WILLIAMSTOWN -- The Mount Greylock volleyball team opened its season by hosting Pittsfield on Tuesday evening. In the beginning, it looked like the Mounties’ season opener.
Their inexperience was showing, and they needed to settle down. Eventually they did and gave Pittsfield a good run, but the Generals’ senior-laden group prevailed in four sets, 25-17, 19-25, 25-18, 25-18.
"They were like deer in
headlights," Greylock coach Phil Paul said of his team in the first set. "A lot of them had never really played much varsity at all and [there was] a lot of nervousness out there and to be expected."
Senior Michala Dean is the lone returning starter, and has just one classmate, Brianna Jones, on the team. She’s the obvious offensive weapon in the Mounties’ arsenal. But it will take time for her and setter Celia Bote to sync up.
Time after time through the first three sets, Dean spiked the ball into the net. When she did it late in the third set, it gave the Generals a 2-1 set advantage.
She and Bote figured things out in the fourth, and Dean’s first punishing blow brought Greylock within 13-10. A cross-court kill later drew the Mounties within 21-18 as they were trying to stave off defeat.
"The set was too far off the net and too low. [Michala] needs the ball up high and near the net," Paul said. "Once Celia gets used to where she wants it and is able to put it there, we’ll
"That’s the first match [Celia’s] ever set a 6-2. She did all right."
But neither fourth-set kill was enough to compensate for the rough passing. From the beginning, the Mounties had trouble passing from the back line up to the net, which makes the setter’s job more difficult. Dean and Bote zig-zagged all over the court trying to get in position to set the hitters. They tracked down most passes, but weren’t able to set up the hitters in high-percentage areas.
"We haven’t had a lot of practices yet. We’ve been working hard and Celia’s a first-time setter," Dean said. "She’s doing great, so I can’t fault her, and my passing a couple of those times was a little off."
The Pittsfield defense was able to sit and wait, which allowed them to stay in position most times. It also led to few unforced errors. The Generals simply took what was given to them.
"It’s a good veteran group that we have here," Pittsfield coach Brian Lawton said. "We’ve got seven seniors, but tonight, there was no one outstanding player."
The Pittsfield statistics prove it. Jasmine Chapman and Karissa Kozlowski tied for the team high with four kills each. Megan Bodnar was right behind with three.
For Greylock, Dean led the way offensively with eight kills. She added eight aces, 10 assists and 11 digs. Bote also had 10 assists. But the biggest surprise was Hope Willis. The freshman had five kills and five solo blocks in the middle, which Paul was ecstatic about.
"We’ve never had that," he said. "We’ve never had that many blocks in a match."
The win gets Pittsfield off on the right foot after it won just five matches last season.
"Great starting point," Lawton said. "We expect a lot out of our team this year because of the veteran group we have here and we’ve got the Western Mass. playoffs in our sight."