Facing an abbreviated schedule due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the prospect of playing a highly competitive match in the opening week of the season might be overwhelming.
But Marriotts Ridge and Howard volleyball looked past the stress and delivered Monday night.
Behind the hitting of Jordan Redmiles and the serving of Kathy Taveras, the host Lions defeated the Mustangs in straight sets, 25-14, 25-21. But it took staving off a swift Marriotts Ridge comeback down the stretch in the second game to come out on top.
Redmiles had six kills, while Taveras added three aces and 10 digs as Howard ran out to double-digit leads in both games.
“We definitely came in hungry today. We knew that last year, we were capable of winning, but we didn’t have the same energy that we played with today,” said Howard coach Allison Ose, whose team dropped a 3-1 decision to Marriotts Ridge when they played in 2019, one of only two county losses for the Lions that season. “I told them to remember last year when we were kind of down on energy and we lost some points when we really should’ve had it. That really fed us going into the game.
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After a back and forth contest to start in the first set, the Lions moved out to a 9-5 advantage before storming out to a 17-8 lead. Taveras served for five points, while Gigi Fredrickson chipped in with four service points. Redmiles later netted three more points with the serve as Howard scored on 10 of 11 exchanges during one stretch.
Ayanna Pharoah garnered the game-winning serve to give the Lions a 25-14 win.
The second set started with 2-2 and 5-5 ties, before the Lions secured six straight points on the serves from Pharoah to make it 11-5. It wasn’t too long before the scoreboard read 21-9, with Taveras again serving for five points.
Marriotts Ridge had enough of the negative momentum, however, and made the final set interesting. The Mustangs closed to within 21-15, with Vivian O’Brien notching five service points. They then cut it all the way to 24-21, with Madison Wray scoring three points at the service line, before the Lions closed it out.
“After the first set, I told everybody ‘You guys have to swing more. We can’t be using our tips so much.’ We have some really good hitters on the team and they swung their hardest. It really helped us out,” said Redmiles, a senior setter. “I think having a match under our belts helped us out. We got the nerves out the first five points of the last game. It took us a little bit to get back into it, but after that we were all good.”
Marriotts Ridge started three sophomores and coach Jamie Bullock thought that the lack of playing time together as a team and all the interruptions the pandemic has caused was a major source of the numerous unforced errors her Mustangs committed. Marriotts Ridge had its game against Mt. Hebron last Friday postponed.
“We’ll get better. We’re not afraid of anybody. We just didn’t have a good night tonight,” Bullock said. “We’re just here to play as hard as we can play. This year’s team needs to prove themselves. Just like any team would have to do coming back out. We are going to get there. They’re young and they just need some time to play together and gel together.”
Darien Garner had five kills, with Kelenna Onukwugha and Corinne Chau each adding three, for Howard in the win.
O’Brien had two aces and four kills, Leah Liu knocked down three kills, Julie Mamo accounted for three digs and Brenna O’Reilly had an ace and 10 assists for the Mustangs.
Howard def. Marriotts Ridge— 2-0 [25-14, 25-21]
Howard stats: Jordan Redmiles (6 kills, 12 assists), Darien Garner (5 kills), Kathy Taveras (3 aces, 10 digs)
Marriotts Ridge stats: Vivian O’Brien (2 aces, 4 kills), Julia Mamo (3 digs), Brenna O’Reilly (1 ace, 10 assists) and Leah Liu (3 kills)
The Eagles improved to 2-0 on the season with the victory in straight sets. Freshman Mailhn Goschall continued her hot start with a team-leading six kills and four aces, while sophomore Brianna Bossom recorded a team-high 17 assists.