Harper Meehan of Gilford looks to put the ball over the net around the outstretched hands of Plymouth's Abby Bassingthwaite. (Photo by Joshua Spaulding) (click for larger version)
October 07, 2021GILFORD — The defending Division II champion Gilford Golden Eagles volleyball team got off to a quick start against a young Plymouth team last Tuesday afternoon. The Bobcats battled back with a strong effort in the second set, but the hosts finished strong with a win in the third set to clinch the 3-0 win.
"We were able to play a lot of players and try them in different positions," said Gilford coach Amy Tripp. "If you can do that in high pressure situations, it's nice to see what everyone can do."
"We didn't have one of our starters, which shouldn't make a difference, but it always does," said Plymouth coach Jonathan VanScoter. "We made some adjustments, but it just wasn't enough to beat Gilford."
Gilford came out strong, with Maggie Shute finishing out a 25-7 win with a hard hit.
The second game saw Kate Sullivan for Gilford and Abby Bassingthwaite for Plymouth exchange hits early on and then Mansha Patel followed with a service ace for Plymouth. Abby Seal and Shute had hits for the hosts before Ella Kunz responded with a service ace for the Bobcats. Gilford got a couple of hits from Sophia Lehr but Plymouth answered with one from Summer McKenzie for the 6-4 lead for the Bobcats.
Gilford battled back and pulled even at seven with an ace from Ashley Sanderson. Plymouth got a hit and a block from Kayley Merrifield, but the Golden Eagles got a hit from Alexa Leonard, as the two teams tied at 10, 11 and 12, with Riley McDonough finding a good spot for the hosts. Gilford went up 14-12 on a hit from Lehr, but a Bassingthwaite block and service ace from Kunz pulled Plymouth even at 14.'
Bassingthwaite found a good spot for a hit, but Gilford battled back with Lehr firing a pair of service aces and then McDonough pushing the ball over the net for a key point. Sanderson followed with a hit and Shute also added a kill as Gilford finished off the 25-18 win for the 2-0 lead.
Sullivan, Abby Kenyon and Shute all had early hits for Gilford in the third set, but Kunz responded with an ace for the Bobcats to tie things up at four. McDonough had a great service run, firing off four aces as Gilford opened up the 13-4 lead. Bassingthwaite came back with an ace for the visitors and McKenzie added a hit to help cut the lead to 13-9.
Gilford continued to open things up a bit, as Sanderson had a service ace and Sullivan had a big hit and the Golden Eagles finished off the set with a 25-13 win and the 3-0 overall victory.
"I thought we played with good control and composure," Tripp said. "And the energy was still there and that is important too.
"I thought we had really good serving tonight," she continued. "Plymouth, they're kind of rebuilding, but Abby (Bassingthwaite), she is really good."
"We're trying to make it through with a very young squad out there," VanScoter said. "Trying to play an experienced team like Gilford is tough, but they did well.
"Going down two sets, it's hard to bounce back from that mentally against a team like Gilford," the Bobcat coach added. "And volleyball is 90 percent mental."
Gilford is slated to be hosting Laconia on Tuesday, Oct. 12, at 5:45 p.m. and will be hosting John Stark on Thursday, Oct. 14, at 5:45 p.m.
Plymouth will be in action on Friday, Oct. 8, at home against Coe-Brown at 6 p.m. and will be hosting Oyster River at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 14.
Sports Editor Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 279-4516, ext. 155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.