GREENWICH — Saturday’s volleyball match between FAA foes Hopkins School and Greenwich Academy, saw the Gators have their moments in each game. Yet unfortunately for GA, those moments came a little too late.
Starting strongly, Hopkins forced Greenwich Academy to play catch-up in each game, a challenge it couldn’t overcome.
Displaying stellar serving, powerful hitting and precise passing, Hopkins recorded an impressive 3-0 victory over host Greenwich Academy. The Hilltoppers, who won the match by set scores of 25-15, 28-26, 25-13, raised their record to 2-2 with their second straight triumph.
“Our goal was to not have too many unforced errors and we achieved that,” said Hopkins coach Dina Ding, who, previously, was an assistant coach at Greenwich Academy. “I think our girls played really well today, controlling the free balls. Our teamwork is better than it was at the beginning of the season.”
Senior middle hitter Samantha Dies provided a lot of power for Hopkins, registering numerous kills, after being set up by sophomore setter Casey Goldberg.
“The big thing for us today was communication and not getting frazzled,” Dies said. “We passed it to Casey and she set us up, which gave us the opportunity to kill it.”
Greenwich Academy (0-2) received 10 kills and 12 digs from junior Madlin Decker, six kills from junior Grace Ryan and 16 digs from senior Casey Gottlieb.
“We made a lot of unforced errors and we beat ourselves on quite a few plays,” GA coach Christy Girard said. “Missed serves, balls hit out, balls hit into the net, a lot of that happened. But our defense was terrific, our digs were great and our serve receive was good. We just need to get off to a better start and not play catch-up.”
Hopkins jumped out to a 15-4 lead in the first set, behind two kills from eighth-grader Nataly Moravec. A pair of kills by Ryan helped GA hang in there, but a kill by Goldberg gave the visitors a 23-12 lead.
“I think they played really well, they had good defense and it was hard for us to get it down,” Goldberg said. “Our passing was better than it was in previous matches and we had better serve receives. Also, we had much more communication and barely had any mistakes hitting.”
EXCITING SECOND SET
The Hilltoppers again seized a seemingly comfortable advantage, building leads of 12-4 and 18-10. But the Gators rallied and chipped away at the lead, behind effective serving and solid play at the net from senior Emma James. Her block gave GA a 25-24 lead and after Hopkins tied the score, she registered another block making it 26-25. With the score knotted at 26-26, Dies gave the visitors the lead with a tip. She closed out the set with an ace.
“We started out with unforced errors and then toward the middle of the second game we got comfortable and began putting the ball in strategic positions,” Gottlieb said. “If we were able to come out and be strategic the early points of the game we would have been more successful. They put it in really good spots and found our holes. We know what we need to work on in practice now.”
Said Ryan, who added two aces and nine assists: “Their defense was great, they were picking up everything and they had strong serves too. We picked it up in the second game, especially with our play and talking.”
CLOSING IT OUT
Solid serving from seniors Kiarra Lavache and Genevieve Speer helped the Hilltoppers remain in control during the third set.
“Today, we played really well,” Moravec said. “We were pumped and motivated to play them.”
Said Dies: “Getting a lot of points quickly to start each game is so significant. It’s big mentally and it keeps the ball rolling.”
Freshman Valeska Lasky had seven assists for GA, which visits Masters School on Tuesday.
HOPKINS 3, GREENWICH ACADEMY 0
HOPKINS 25 28 25
GREENWICH ACADEMY 15 26 15
Records: Hopkins 2-2; Greenwich Academy 0-2