Big win for Gami volleyball
MAYS LANDING — Technically, it was still summer on Wednesday afternoon. Maybe that explains the hot start by the Absegami girls volleyball team. Or, it could be the fact that the Braves have five talented and highly motivated seniors leading the way.
Atlantic County Institute of Technology — a program in just its third year of existence that had won seven of its first eight games — was looking to make a statement Wednesday afternoon on the RedHawks' home court. The Braves weren't having any of that.
Absegami jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first game before cruising to a 25-13 win, then fought back from several deficits in the second game to win, 25-18, and take the match 2-0. The Braves improved to 6-0, and not a single opponent has taken a game from them during the winning streak.
The victory gives Absegami the inside track on the Cape-Atlantic League title, but these two teams will meet again in Galloway on Oct. 17. The Braves now turn their attention to a huge matchup at home on Friday against Pinelands, one of the top teams in South Jersey.
"I wanted to prove that we were still the No. 1 team in the CAL, and we wanted to shut them down in the first game," said Braves senior Olivia Clinkscale. "We struggled in the second set, but we pulled through."
"This was one of the CAL teams that we are going to go up against, and I feel like we did a pretty good job in the chemistry department. Our energy was really high and we had a lot of adrenaline going," added senior setter Adriana Gonzalez.
The Braves (6-0, 6-0 CAL) jumped out to an 11-1 lead in the first game behind some solid serving from Clinkscale and Gonzalez, forcing ACIT coach Kevin Miller to call a timeout so the RedHawks (7-2, 6-1) could regroup. It didn't help much, as the Braves extended their lead to 17-7, then pushed ahead to 24-10 after a couple of service points by sophomore Kaylin Flukey. Middle hitter Annalise Wagner ended the game with an emphatic slam.
"Going into the game, I knew it was between us and Absegami as far as being the top two teams in the CAL, and I knew it was going to be a tough one and go back and forth. We had a rough start, but we made a change in the lineup and that kept us in it in the second game," said ACIT coach Kevin Miller. "But, they outplayed us. Today, they were the better team because they serve received better than we did. My girls had a tough time reading their serves and we couldn't get the passes we wanted, so my setter wasn't able to work with much."
The RedHawks took their first lead of the match early in the second game when they went up, 6-5, but a bad serve allowed Absegami to tie the game at 6. With the match tied, 13-13, the RedHawks scored the point after a long rally to take a 14-13 lead, but again the Braves battled back and took a 16-15 lead on a block by Wagner at the net.
The Braves never trailed again, building a 19-15 lead on a couple of service points by Maryah Betancourt, forcing another ACIT timeout. The RedHawks climbed to within 20-16, but Absegami scored five of the next six points and won the match on an ace by Flukey.
"I feel like we're playing well, and we're looking forward to playing against Pinelands on Friday. We love that we know each other so well. We know what we're going to do and we predict each other's movements, so that helps a lot," Clinkscale said. "ACIT is really scrappy, and the second set was a struggle, but we got there and pulled through. They are a good team, though."
Added Gonzalez, "I felt pretty good with my serves, and everybody did a great job with their energy, so we all kind of kept each other up and playing well."
ACIT is off until Friday, when the RedHawks will try to get back to their winning ways at Camden Tech.
Contact Dave O'Sullivan: email@example.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays