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Panthers spikers off and running, sweep Belmont at home



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Ally Lively and Kaitlin Slippy go up for a block of Belmont’s Myranda Lewis during Moultonboro Academy’s 3-0 win on Friday night. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
September 12, 2011
MOULTONBORO – When Brittney Hale stepped to the service line to kick off the third game of the match Friday night, Moultonboro Academy volleyball coach John Garneau had plenty of confidence in his senior outside hitter.

That's why the veteran coach wasn't too surprised to see what transpired next, as Hale served 17 straight MA points to open the frame, leading her Panthers to a convincing sweep of Belmont High School, 25-17, 25-20, 25-8, in Division III action.

"You never really know when that's going to happen," admitted Garneau of the 17-0 lead in game three. "But Brittney's one of the best servers I've ever had so she's definitely capable of doing that. Our whole team serves the ball very well, we don't have any weak servers in our lineup."

The first two games had a much different feel than the third, as the two teams battled back and forth in just their second matches of the season. MA led just 8-7 in game one before going on a bit of a run, and the team led 22-14 thanks to an ace from Kim Delaney. Belmont's Myranda Lewis added a kill late in the opener but a defensive miscue from the Red Raiders allowed the Panthers to take a 25-17 win in game one.

"A lot of the problems tonight were fundamentals," said Belmont coach Karen Hoey. "It's a matter of just bolstering up their self-esteem and getting things corrected so that we can continue to get better and better as the season goes on."

Belmont led 8-7 in game two thanks to an Alyssa Woods kill, but the Panthers again had a run in the middle of the frame, as they built a 20-12 advantage thanks to a block from Delaney. While MA looked primed to finish the game off, the Red Raiders had other ideas. Thanks to kills from Woods and Nicole Derosia and a pair of aces from Lewis, Belmont went on an 8-0 run to close the gap to 22-20 and make the Panthers work for the second game. MA woke up just in time however, as the home team reeled off the final three points with a key kill from setter Rachael Duddy aiding in the effort to pull out the 25-20 win.

"A team without talent can't put that kind of a run together so there are definitely things we can work with," said Hoey. "(Moultonboro is) one of the better teams in Division III so this was a bit of a wakeup call for us. But we needed this I think, it's early and we've got some time to figure things out."

Hale was the story in game three, as her serving streak put MA up 17-0 and the team cruised to the 25-8 win to close out the sweep.

"Our serving overall was tough tonight," said Garneau. "We missed too many for my liking but the ones we got over were tough to handle. Belmont covers the floor quite well defensively so we didn't rack up a ton of kills but I thought we were scrappy and we didn't let balls hit the floor on our side."

Hale finished with 12 aces to lead the Panthers, including nine in game three, while Kaitlin Slippy totaled 10 kills in the win. Duddy and Delaney combined for 10 digs defensively while Duddy dished out eight assists from her setter spot.

"I didn't see a lot of weaknesses from us tonight which is obviously nice to see this early in the year," said Garneau, whose team improved to 2-0 with the win. "We had a little loss of momentum in that second game but that's to be expected, that'll happen at points throughout any season."

Belmont got four kills from Derosia and three from Lewis, while Woods chipped in with a pair. Setter Megan Bailey had nine assists for the Red Raiders while Rachel Guyer (two aces) and Lewis (three aces) led the way in the serving department.

"I thought we were scrappy and able to get to a lot of balls I didn't think we'd be able to get to," said Hoey. "Those are things that'll stick with us all year hopefully."

MA opened its season with another convincing victory, as the Panthers swept Prospect Mountain, 25-13, 25-13, 25-6, on Sept. 7 in Alton.

Slippy had 10 kills in the win over the Timberwolves, while Hale followed with five. Duddy had seven aces, 22 assists and seven digs to pace the team against Prospect, while Cassie Malm had five digs from the back row.

The MA JV team also opened the year 2-0, as the junior Panthers beat Prospect, 2-1, and swept Belmont, 2-0.

AJ Coleman
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Varney Smith
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