Patriots deny Comet rally, secure win in fifth game

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 12, 2008


Sports Editor

St. Charles was able to erase a two games to none deficit to rival John Curtis Thursday, but the Patriots held off a feverish comeback to post their second win of the season, 25-7, 25-21, 22-25, 16-25, and 15-11.

Curtis’ Lacey Huxon recorded three of the Patriots’ last five points on kills to help her team close out a Comets’ squad that seemed to transform mid-match, turning a run-away Curtis victory into a nailbiter.

“(St. Charles) did a really good job keeping it in play,” said Patriots Coach Dawn Curtis.  “We had a bunch of unforced errors, and when we put it in play, they played strong defense.

“We came out in the fifth game and found some holes. We received serves a little bit better.”

JCC (2-0) jumped out to a 9-1 lead in the first game, and led 14-7 before scoring 11 straight points to close the game.

Something had to change, said SCC Coach Brandy Ryan.

“It was our first game since the jamboree. I think that when John Curtis walked in, our girls were a bit intimidated,” Ryan said.

“I told them, we have to get it together and not be intimidated. You could see it in their eyes. Just go out and play the game of volleyball.”

The Comets’ Meg Gustafson said that the coach made sure everybody knew what was at stake.

“Coach Brandy told us, if we didn’t get it together, we wouldn’t play,” she said. “None of us wanted to go to the bench. We wanted to play and show what we’re all about.”

It would be a back and forth affair from then on between the two former district foes. John Curtis pulled away late in the second game, an Ashley Henderson spike closing out the game to make it a 25-21 win and a 2-0 lead.  

A Taylor Duhe kill gave the Comets (0-1) an early 7-2 lead in the third game, but Curtis would slowly make their way back into things, tying it at 13. With the score tied at 17, SCC appeared to score three consecutive points to go ahead 20-17, but officials ruled a violation on those attempts, and the game would continue at 17-17. With the score tied at 22, Courtney Western factored into the last three points with a kill, an unreturned volley and an ace to close out a 25-22 win for SCC.

SCC trailed 6-2 in the fourth game, but Gustafson’s four aces highlighted 11 straight Comet points, and SCC would not trail. Kadie Levantino’s kill clinched a 25-16 win for SCC.

But the comeback came up short in the final game. The Comets again erased an early JCC lead of 6-2 to tie the game at 10, but Curtis scored five of the next six points to clinch the match.

Levantino had seven aces and seven digs. Brooke Becker had seven kills, and Western notched 18 assists.

Ryan said that the lack of preparation due to Gustav might have hurt her team’s execution, but said that the Comets’ effort made the comeback possible.

“I have to give it to the girls,” she said. “No, I’m not satisfied at this point, but I’ve got to give them two thumbs up for their hustle.”

Gustafson said the team could certainly use the match as a building block for the rest of the season.

“Towards the end, we really came together as a team,” she said. “I think it showed that if we keep playing with that hustle and effort, we can go really far.

“I’m proud of the way we pulled together. We played with our hearts. It just didn’t fall our way this time.”