Bulldogs rally to beat ’Hawks in five games
Friday, October 4, 2013
A cornered cat tends to fight back viciously, but for the Merrimack High School girls volleyball team, it faced a team of cornered Bulldogs.
Merrimack fell to Bedford on Monday, 3-2, after taking a 2-1 series lead into the fourth game in a Division I match. The game scores were 22-25, 25-20, 21-25, 25-23, 15-8.
Leading up to Game 4, Merrimack had been depending on the blistering strikes of Jen Coffey, but Bedford’s defense, with Hannah Koehler (six blocks) leading the way, stood tall at the net to alleviate the attack.
“When you have somebody with a contagious personality as Hannah and she’s playing to win, it spreads through her teammates,” said Bedford coach Sarah Stank.
The Bulldogs were backed with strong serving from Becca Foti and Kendal Sonovick. The tide turned when Foti stepped up to line to lead her team on a five-point run in Game 4, putting Bedford up 23-19. The Tomahawks retaliated to knot the score at 23, but the spree ended there when Coffey could not handle a loose ball out of bounds.
The Bulldogs proceeded to nail down the final points with Koehler at the line.
“When the girls decide they’re here to compete, that’s the turning point,” Stank said. “It happens every five points or so. They have to make this renewed commitment to playing courageously even after making errors.”
The final game was a continuation of the Bedford (7-2) momentum that showcased more blocked Merrimack strikes and prolonged serving by Kohler, Lily Condylis and Abigail Guerra.
“We started off flat,” said Merrimack coach Tammy Lambrou. “I don’t think we ever came ready to serve receive or play defense.
“This is good for us. We haven’t gone more than three (games) with anyone all year, so it was good for us to have to fight back. It’s good conditioning for us.”
Jen and Jo Coffey combined for a potent tandem for Merrimack in the first three games, with Jo Coffey serving up a storm at the line, and Jen Coffey sending over blazing strikes. Jo Coffey ended Game 1 by serving up four straight points, capped off by setting up her older sister for a kill for the game’s final point.
“They played pretty well (Monday),” said Lambrou on the Coffey sisters. “We just didn’t get Jen the ball enough. We won those other two games because we made fewer mistakes than them. We swung hard at them.”
Jen Coffey compiled 21 kills and two blocks, while Jo Coffey accounted for 39 assists, 22 digs and six aces. Taylor Handy chipped in two blocks, 11 digs and eight kills.
For Bedford, Koehler complied 12 kills, five aces and four digs. Foti had seven kills, two aces and 11 digs, and Sonovick had five kills, five aces and 21 digs.
Freshman Elise Jolly has been making strides for the Tomahawks. She produced nine kills and four digs.
“She learns things so quickly,” said Lambrou. “She’s aggressive, she has no fear. I really look to her to continue to improve and build more confidence and be playing for the next three years.”
Merrimack (6-2) was scheduled to take on Salem (6-2) at home on Wednesday.
“We can only get better from this game,” said Jen Coffey. “We know what we have to work on and we’re just going to work on it in practice. We’ve got to keep the ball in and work on finishing.”