Playing its third match in three days, No. 7 Dulaney (11-1) fought off a feisty No. 15 Western Tech volleyball squad and emerged with a 25-20, 25-20, 25-20 victory on Wednesday night against the host Wolverines (9-2).
Western Tech led early in all three sets.
In the first set, Rachel Durham (team-high five kills) had a kill to bump the Wolverines lead to 10-5, but a kill by Dulaney sophomore Lisa Liu (team-high eight kills) started a run that cut the lead to 10-8.
Dulaney finally tied the set, 11-11, with Mackenzie Weller on the service line.
Weller’s ace, a Western Tech hitting error and block by Rose Vail (seven kills, two blocks) pushed the lead to 14-11.
The Wolverines never got closer then two points the rest of the way and Vail led the Lions with four kills in the set.
Keiran Ray had two kills and three aces and Durham had two kills in the set for Western Tech.
Set two started much the way the first one began, with Western Tech taking the early lead.
“We came in excited, we were excited to play them and play a good match,” said Western Tech setter Beatrice Daudelin. “We knew that they weren’t thinking much of us because they had beaten us 3-0 in past years. We knew if we came out really strong and surprised them, we could take it from there.”
With a dump for a kill from Daudelin and strong defense from libero Carley Boarman the Wolverines raced to an 8-4 lead, only to see the Lions rally again.
The Lions led 17-15 when Vail took over on the service line and changed the match.
With a top-spin jump serve, she put the vaunted Western Tech defense on its heels as she reeled off five straight points, giving the Lions a 22-15 lead.
“She is really good,” Daudelin said.
“There is so much momentum in high school volleyball,” Western Tech coach Eric Jett said. “All the sudden you get a girl that does top spin with as much power as she does, and she tosses it high like the college girls and she has all that momentum coming down and it’s just something you don’t practice a lot against. She has a lot more power on hers.”
Vail hopes to make the serve pay off in the postseason.
“I want to get it for states and playoffs if we get that far and its going to be a really strong serve if I do get it in states and I’m just going to keep working on it because when it’s on, it’s really on and it helps a lot, especially when I am on a run,” Vail said.
Liu had five kills, Vail had three and Nancy Slaughter had two kills and libero Erika Guo played strong defense, along with Aja Irving, in the final set for the Lions, who trailed 3-1 early, but took the lead.
Trailing 18-14, the Wolverines won three straight points, starting with a kill by Ray.
Ray followed with a pair of aces, making it 18-17, but a kill by Liu stopped the charge.
The Wolverines again had a chance to tie it at 21-all, but a lift gave the Lions the side out and Irving served out the match.
“I think we were a little frazzled once we got it really close and we just kind of got a little nervous there and we just kind of let it go,” Daudelin said.
Jett, whose squad lost in the Class 1A state semifinals last year, liked the way his team extended rallies, but would prefer a few more points ending early.
“We have to be aggressive on offense because we have trouble ending points quickly,” Jett said. “I feel like we did that pretty well, we continued to attack out of positions that I don’t think other teams are prepared for and I think that is to our advantage.”
Vail, whose squad lost its first match of the season to Broadneck on Monday, playing without starting setter Kathryn Parler, likes the way her team responded when the match got tight.
“Whenever the pressure is on, we try our hardest not to get down because that just makes us struggle and it gets in our heads, so whenever we keep our energy up, if it’s a tight game, it helps us get over it,” Vail said.