Before the pandemic put a halt to fall sports, Reservoir volleyball coach Carole Ferrante knew she had a true contender. After the Gators’ straight-set sweep of Atholton on Monday, her thoughts were completely verified.
Reservoir, which won the sets by scores of 25-23 and 25-7, was led by junior Jessica Rothermel, senior Kayla Browne and sophomore Kelsey Holmes in its fourth straight sweep to open the season.
“We’re really excited about what we have to come for our future. Most of the people we have on the court are only sophomores,” Ferrante said. “Our team is very young. Plus we have girls playing JV that could be up on varsity in a normal year.”
Rothermel pounded down 19 kills while adding two aces and two digs. Browne added nine kills, an ace, a block and a dig, while Holmes pitched in with four kills, seven digs, four assists and a block.
“Atholton is always a great game for us,” Rothermel said. “... We always want to kill it. I know I want to make the best set that I can and I get to see my teammates kill it. It just brings such a different dynamic to the team when you’re getting great kills and great blocks and serves are consistent. I think we definitely went out there tonight and wanted to kill it.”
The Gators held on for the narrow win in the opening set, while winning the second set by 18 points after storming out to a 12-0 lead.
The cast that Ferrante put on the floor reacted to a tough-hitting Raiders squad, which is now 2-2 on the season. After battling no more than a four-point deficit after leading 3-2 early, Atholton took a brief 23-22 lead late before the home team netted the final three points of the set to squeak out the two-point win.
Senior Navleen Kaur (three aces, four kills, six digs) served for the penultimate point then slammed an ace for the deciding point.
“I only started playing in my freshman year and I was working hard to get toward getting to varsity. I got on varsity my junior year, so I am just truly grateful to be playing this year,” Kaur said. “For my senior year...I’m really glad that I have the experience to play with such an amazing team.”
That group of Gators made a miraculous transition between games and ran off 12 straight points in the second set before allowing their guest a point. Rothermel served for 11 straight points, including an ace and four kills from Browne and two kills by Holmes, only to extend the lead to 16-1 shortly thereafter. Gabby Allen (four digs and an ace) served the match point in the second-set win.
Kyndall Mason (8 kills, 2 digs), Ingrid Chang (10 digs) and Kelly He (2 kills, 6 assists) were the leaders for the Raiders in the loss.
Atholton coach Larry Schofield knew what he was facing coming in. He knew what Reservoir had coming into the season and believed it would take a perfect effort from his girls to be victorious.
“I knew coming in that this was the team to beat for the state championship. They should be going to a state championship,” Schofield said. “They are that good, and they will get even better as the season progresses. But we pushed them really hard. I was pleased with the way we played them in the first set. I knew they were going to come after us, which they did in the second set. After they ran some of those first couple serves, we started playing a little scared and less aggressive. We got away from taking care of the ball in the second set, and they took advantage of it.”