KARIE BILODEAU goes up for a kill during action against Belmont on Sept. 13. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
September 17, 2012ALTON — After opening the season against two very strong teams, the Prospect Mountain volleyball team was looking forward to its matchup with Belmont on Thursday, Sept. 13.
In fact, the girls were looking forward to it so much that they may have underestimated the Raiders.
"For us, almost every game is going to be tough," coach Kerry Fitzpatrick said. "We knew nothing about Belmont, but they came in with good ball control and dug out everything we threw at them.
"And they didn't give us anything," the Timber Wolf coach continued. "I don't think we were prepared, mentally, for that."
Prospect took an early lead in the first game, as Nicole Ouellette got the game's first point and plays from Karie Bilodeau and Anna Jortikka and an ace from Bilodeau propelled Prospect to a 4-1 lead. Rosina Montgomery and Savannah DeCoff chipped in with strong play at the net and the Timber Wolves were able to stay in the lead at 8-5.
However, Belmont battled back, tying the game at nine and then taking a slight lead. Montgomery and DeCoff both played well at the net to keep the Timber Wolves close, but Belmont slowly opened up a five-point lead at 18-13 before a kill from Ouellette got Prospect back on the board.
Bilodeau came up with a nice block and Ouellette had another solid play as the Timber Wolves tried to climb back in the game, cutting Belmont's lead to 20-17. However, they wouldn't get any closer, as the visitors closed out the game with a 25-18 victory.
The second game went to the Raiders early on, but a block from Jortikka helped bring Prospect back and the Timber Wolves took the lead on a couple of occasions, going up 6-5 and then 7-6. An ace from Zoe Wenzel upped the lead to two, but Belmont fought right back and went on a seven-point run to take a 13-8 lead before Ouellette got Prospect back on the board.
Bilodeau chipped in with a nice kill down the stretch, but the lead was too much for the Timber Wolves to overcome and Belmont took a 25-14 win in game two.
Belmont started strong in game three as well, jumping out to a 5-1 lead and opening that lead up to 12-3. Prospect didn't fold, however, as a kill from DeCoff got them back on the board and they slowly began crawling back. Jortikka got a good kill for a point and then added an ace, but the visitors still held a 20-9 lead.
An Ashlee Roy ace kept the Timber Wolves going in the right direction and after the visitors maxed out the lead to 23-13, Prospect got good work from Montgomery and Bilodeau at the net, cutting the lead to 23-16. An ace from Bilodeau cut the Belmont lead to 24-19, but the Red Raiders got the final point and the 3-0 win.
"There's a little desperation on our part," Fitzpatrick said. "We had a tough year last year and we have something to prove this year.
"Every game is so important," the Timber Wolf coach continued. "So when Belmont started coming back, the girls struggled mentally to get things moving forward."
Through last year and the first few games of this season, serve receive has been a big issue for the Timber Wolves and Fitzpatrick thought her team improved significantly in that area.
"Minus a couple of blips, the serve receive was better," she said. "That wasn't where we lost the game."
She noted the team had worked on serve receive over and over in practice and she intends to continue that, but also add in more net play practice.
"Obviously our net game has to improve if we're going to beat anybody," she said, nothing aggressive play at the net is needed.
For the game, Roy finished with 22 assists, three digs and four aces, while Ouellette had three kills, a 100 percent hitting percentage and a 100 percent service mark and three digs. Bilodeau had five kills, two ace and three blocks.
Prospect will be in action on Friday, Sept. 21, at Portsmouth Christian. On Monday, Sept. 24, the Timber Wolves host Franklin and on Wednesday, Sept. 26, the team hosts Mascoma, with all matches set for 6 p.m. varsity start times.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at email@example.com or 569-3126