EMILY JEWETT goes up for a kill in action against Laconia on Oct. 9. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
October 14, 2013WOLFEBORO — If the Kingswood volleyball team goes on to make some noise in the Division II tournament, it would be safe to point to this past week as the turning point in the season.
After dispatching Kennett by a 3-0 score to open the week on Monday, Oct. 7, the Knights came home and knocked off Laconia in a gut-check of a game by a 3-2 score on Wednesday, Oct. 9, and then handled Oyster River by a 3-0 score on Friday, Oct. 11.
The Oyster River win was something coach Mike Christy had been looking for all season.
"That's the big win we've been looking for," Christy said, noting his team has struggled to get over the hump against the better teams in the division. "Our offense just blew them away."
He noted that the Bobcats seemingly had no answer for the big kills from Emily Rumery and Liz McLaughlin on the outside.
"And it was the best defense I've seen since I've been here," Christy said.
He noted that the previous day's practice had been devoted to completely changing things up, putting in a new offense and defense.
"It paid off," Christy said.
The Knights also raised $500 for the fight against breast cancer at their annual Dig Pink night.
And while the win over Laconia might not have had the "big game" impact of the win over Oyster River, it was a watershed moment for the Knights.
"I think this is the first five-set match since I've been here that we've come out on top," Christy said. "We're moving forward. We're trying to set ourselves up for a deep run into the playoffs."
The Knights didn't win the third game from the Sachems, but that game did provide the turning point in the game.
Trailing 13-3 in that third game, the Knights were in trouble and weren't playing well and it appeared the Sachems would take the game with ease and take an easy 2-1 lead to the fourth game.
But the Knights bounced back, eventually tying the match at 23 before falling 25-23.
"That was huge," Christy said of the comeback. "We realized that we can come back from anything."
Out of the gate, Kingswood was strong, as the serving of McLaughlin helped them out to a 6-0 lead, with Rumery and Cassie Bates chipping in with strong play at the net. The Knights built the lead to 9-2 with strong play from Rumery, Kelsey Hammond and Allie Campbell, but the Sachems slowly battled back. Rumery and Emily Jewett helped the Knights stay ahead with good play at the net and Bates had a key tip as well.
Rumery had two strong plays in a row to allow the Knights to open a 20-15 lead, but the Sachems continued to hang around. A Campbell block and nice play at the net from Casey Sargent helped Kingswood pull away and grab a 25-22 win
Taylor Durand got the Knights out to an early 2-0 lead in the second game and Rumery and Sargent were strong at the net, only to see the Sachems pull away and open up a 13-5 lead. McLaughlin brought the Knight girls back with a couple of good plays at the net and Durand and Rumery chipped in as well, allowing the hosts to get to within 17-13. However, the Sachems were able to control the rest of the way and took a 25-14 win to tie the match at one.
The pivotal third game didn't start out badly for the Knights, as Sargent and Rumery had them tied at three. But then the Sachems rolled off 10 points in a row for the 13-3 lead. A strong play from Jewett at the net got the Knights back on the board and a Rumery ace got the comeback heading in the right direction. Emily Saunders chipped in with a good play at the net and McLaughlin was again strong from the service line, as she ripped off a couple of aces. Hammond and Bates were also solid at the net as the Knights continued to fight back.
Saunders and Hammond both delivered aces and Rumery, Hammond and Campbell were strong at the net as the Knights clawed their way back, tying the game at 23. The Sachems were able to get the final two points for the 25-23 win and a 2-1 lead, but the momentum had swung Kingswood's way.
McLaughlin, Rumery and Bates got the Knights out to a quick 6-1 lead in the fourth game and a pair of aces from Hammond helped them stretch the lead to 9-2. Jewett and McLaughlin were also strong at the net and Durand had a nice get to help the Knights get the lead to 14-9. A Durand ace and strong play from Saunders and McLaughlin gave Kingswood a 17-11 lead. Campbell had an ace to add another point and Brittany Manock, Saunders and Bates helped the Knights open up a 22-12 lead. Rumery and Bates then closed out the game for the 25-14 win, forcing a fifth and final game.
A McLaughlin ace got Kingswood off on the right foot in the fifth game and Hammond, Bates and McLaughlin all had good early points to give Kingswood a 5-2 lead. Laconia fought back to cut the lead to one, but a Rumery hit pushed it back to two. The Sachems tied the game at six, but two big plays from Hammond put Kingswood back in front. The Knights opened up a 12-9 lead before Laconia fought back, eventually tying the game at 13.
However, a nice kill and then a big block, both from the hands of Jewett, got the Knights the 15-13 win and the 3-2 victory.
Christy commented that consistency continued to be his team's issue.
"The focus is just not there all the time," Christy said. "It's a defensive focus. We take plays off.
"We have to get to the point where every ball coming over the net is our focus," he added. "That has to be our focus from game one and if it is, we can play with anyone on offense."
He did commend his team's serving, as it was solid all night.
"We are a very good serving team, we make it tough on teams," Christy said.
The Knights had this week off and will be back in action when they travel to Plymouth on Monday, Oct. 21. On Wednesday, Oct. 23, they play their final regular season home game, hosting Coe-Brown, with both games set for 6 p.m. varsity starts.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or email@example.com.