Photo: Belmont senior Jenna Crowley serving against Arlington.
On Seniors Night against Arlington, Belmont High Volleyball’s Jenna Crowley was ready to shake off some late-season rustiness against the SpyPonders.
“I’ve been struggling a little bit serving lately and I asked our coach if I could serve today,” asked Crowley.
“She asked ‘are you ready?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m 100 percent ready because I was 100 percent in control‘,” said as the senior middle blocker/outside hitter led the Marauders to a three-set sweep of the visiting SpyPonders, 25-17, 25-16, 25-10, on the last game she’d be playing on her Wenner Field House home court.
“No one was down today, everyone had a smile on their faces, the crowd was hyped because everyone wanted this one. It was like a perfect night for a perfect game,” she said.
That strong second half of the season saw Belmont through to an 11-8 record and the 7th seed in the Division 1 Central/East sectionals. They will travel to second-ranked Quincy High School to take on the 18-2 Presidents in a quarterfinal match on Monday, Nov. 4 at 6:30 p.m.
Against Arlington, Crowley would serve without and error and in the third set went on a nine-win run from the backline. But it was her play at the net – including five solo kills and nine in-close digs – that helped Belmont dominate the match with a series of blocks on Belmont’s serve that kept the score running in the Marauders’ favor.
Crowley and the rest of the starting core have stepped up their game in the final weeks of the season.
“We’ve had a lot of good games even the ones we’ve lost I feel we played well,” said Head Coach Jenn Couture after the Arlington match.
“I think things have been clicking a lot more and the team just needed a little bit of time to develop the chemistry with some of the new players,” said Couture, noting the team’s 3-2 loss (15-13 in the fifth set) to a 13-7 Reading team “where we played really consistent and aggressive for the entire game.”
After starting strong in its first two games of the season, the Marauders found themselves facing a league in which each team has gained experience in playing the game.
A three-game stretch turned the season around starting with an epic five-set come-from-behind victory at Burlington. The Devils, who would finish the season 16-4, dominated the first two sets only for the Marauders to take the final three (18, 23, 8) for the big win.
Against Burlington, senior libero Sophia Estok served 18 times with an error, dug the ball out 31 times and had 30 returns of serve to spark the defense. Sophomore Katherine Bai (12) and senior Emily Sabina (11) led in kills while senior setter Mindee Lai handed out 35 assists while handling the ball 169 times with only two miscues.
Belmont’s talent serving and at the net will likely where the Marauders will take advantage of the Quincy match. For Crowley and her teammates, the thoughts of not going to the state tourney were out of the question, even when the team was going through its mid season bad patch.
“It was close but we made it and we have to take the mentality we had [on Seniors night] of just playing smart but also playing hard,” she said.