SPRINGFIELD >> Normally a team trying to figure some things out and dealing with injuries is not going to be high-caliber playoff teams. Mount St. Joseph Academy entered Thursday’s AACA matchup with Gwynedd Mercy Academy as one of those outlying teams.
The 12-1 Magic added another win to their total with a four-set (22-25,25-20,25-21,25-20) victory over the Monarchs.
“We’re still growing. We still don’t know (where we stand),” Mount coach George Trabosh said. “We have an injury, we’re shuffling people around in our lineup believe it or not. I don’t think we’ve put out our strongest team yet.”
For the most part, it’s rare to see two teams play this clean of a game before playoff time. Both squads made the other earn every point on the floor. There were no ‘free points’ to found, sure there were a handful of service errors but for the majority of the game, scores had to be generated.
“Both teams were really strong serve-receive teams,” GMA coach Mike Nguyen said. “It was our offense and defense versus their offense and defense and it was a really nice game to watch. It was a really fun offensive game with some really good defense.”
The turning point in the match came in the third set. It looked like GMA had started to figure out how to attack the MSJ block. The Monarchs started to use some effective ball movement to open up some shots for its powerful hitters.
Abigail Kress, Catherine Peel and Lizzy Ferguson led the Monarch attack as they finished with 16, 13 and 12 kills, respectively.
“They just seemed to be tooling our block,” Nguyen said. “We just weren’t able to rebound off the block and stuff like that. They’re just a solid team that kept controlling the ball on their side.”
Unfortunately for GMA even as it was hitting high-quality shots, the Magic defense was up to the challenge. Mount played great team defense both in and out of system.
The combination of the Magic defense and offense was deadly. Even though Mount made stellar defensive plays it did not always lead to great looks for its hitters, but the Magic made them count as Ailene Woznicki, Elizabeth Thomas and Summer Adamson played solid two-way ball.
“We had some blocks too,” Grabosh said. “Woz shoving some balls down make it look pretty good. Our other middle (Thomas) did a nice job.”
With the win Mount sweeps the regular season matchup with GMA, however, the two could meet up again down the line in the Catholic Academies or District 1-AAA playoffs.
Top Photo: Mount Saint Joseph’s Courtney Kasperski spikes the ball as Gwynedd Mercy Academy’s Olivia Guinther and Gabrielle Greene go for the block during their match on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)