Make no mistake, Albemarle volleyball got punched in the mouth Tuesday night. Monticello came out ready, fired up and in a groove.
Lucky for the Patriots, they responded well to absorbing that first lick.
Trailing by four points in game two, Albemarle bounced back with Kelsey Marks taking over at the service line and reeled off a 26-24 win before winning games three and four to close out a 3-1 victory over the Mustangs.
“We started being louder again, we just started to get more excited and our will to win came back,” Marks said.
It had to come back, because it wasn’t there in the early going even though the Patriots were riding some serious momentum after an impressive performance in the tournament they hosted over the weekend. Instead of Albemarle keeping that going, Monticello seized control with a 25-19 win in game one over the Patriots sparked by a 9-1 run in the middle of the frame. Albemarle (6-3, 2-0 in Jefferson) adjusted though and the match flipped from that 24-21 mark in game two on.
“I think we got a little bit startled when Albemarle started clicking and we swapped roles a little bit,” said Monticello coach Meg Carpenter. “Making those hard adjustments really fast threw us off a little bit. We needed to find a new rhythm with them connecting to their outside (Adalee Lynch) who is an incredible hitter but we needed to adjust.”
Lynch exploded when the momentum swung, particularly in game four when she just started cranking out kills and Albemarle kept feeding her while looking to close out the match. She finished with 15 kills on the night and made things particularly tough on the Mustangs at the net. Lynch is emerging as a force for the Patriots and it’s clear that Albemarle draws on her play for some of its energy.
“Some of those kills are so exciting, they just go straight down,” Marks said. “There’s nothing anyone can do except stare at the ball as it hits the floor.”
Lynch was far from a one-woman band either. Esther Amos and Audrey Sheedy each ripped off 14 kills on the night and that’s a lot of firepower for any team to contain. Monticello countered with Allie Cognata’s 10 kills but without the Patriots’ depth up front, things got tough for the Mustangs as the game wore on.
Marks’ serving was indicative of a team-wide trend that led to the turn around. The Patriots simply improved at the service line and in turn gained control of the match.
“I think we recovered more on our serve than anything else,” said Albemarle coach Mark Ragland. “We were having some issues in a lot of spots early on. We were pretty flat to start with and then we got nervous. We went from flat to nervous and that’s not a good recipe for success.”
To that end, Keira Roach notched four aces on the night while Maya Winterhoff and Marks each had two aces. Sheedy also got going at the line with 14 service points on the night, tying Mark for the team high in that category. Roach also had 44 assists on the night while Bridget Pinnata came up with 15 digs.
For Monticello, Jewell Pugh had 14 assists and three kills while Meghan Walin had five digs, five aces and three kills. Ellie Quick chipped in two kills, three digs and four blocks.
The Patriots face a quick turnaround with Orange coming to Albemarle Wednesday night at 6 p.m. while the Mustangs get a longer, Hurricane Florence-aided break before facing Powhatan next Thursday.