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West Brunswick’s undefeated volleyball team ruled the first two sets, but once South Brunswick seized the momentum, the Cougars got stingy and never gave it back.
South handed West its first defeat of the season in five sets 18-25, 16-25, 25-17, 25-18, 15-12 last Thursday night in the Trojans’ gymnasium.
“No one wants to start out down two sets to one,” South coach Wes Kidd said. “We showed a lot of resilience fighting back.”
West coach Leslie Reeves said, “The first two sets, we all played well. Then our serve receive fell apart. If you’re not receiving well, you can’t get the passes you need.”
The intense Trojans looked awesome in the first two sets. They cruised to victory in the first set on a kill and hard serve by Meeka Hewett, a dink by Nicole Phillips and a double block by Phillips and Bethany Morrison.
The second set looked the same as the first with West pulling away on a Hewett kill, a Phillips dink and three aces on Hewett’s serve. Two Cougars even let the ball drop between them on set point.
But after West went ahead 1-0 in the third set on Leilani Emile’s kill, South became the more aggressive team. The newly confident Cougars regained the lead on a dink and two blocks by Cali Watson and surged in front 20-10 on three aces by Kelsi Kazmierczak. West never got close as Watson closed out the third set 25-17 with back-to-back aces.
Watson, who jumped so high at the net that her kills were almost straight down, had 16 kills in the match.
“Cali Watson has the ability to dominate a game,” Kidd said. “She was strong defensively and she was strong at the net. We also got great net play from Kelsi Kazmierczek (also with 16 kills). We set the ball well tonight, especially Rexi-Lee Harris (with 25 assists).”
West led 10-7 in the fourth set on a strong Hewett block and knotted the score at 16-16 on Olivia Babson’s back-to-back kill and dink and returns by Bethany Morrison and Katie Simmons.
But South scored the next four points on strong net play by Watson and Taylor McEnaney. Then Watson took over again with a kill and four consecutive serves.
In the meantime, West’s best servers put their first serves into the net.
“We missed a lot of serves in the last game,” Reeves admitted.
Still the Trojans led 1-0 in the fifth and deciding set on a block by Babson and Emile and tied the score at 9-9. But the Cougars scored six points to the Trojans’ three to take the set and the match.
“West is incredibly well coached,” Kidd said. “They played extremely hard and they showed a lot of class.”
South improves its record to 3-2.
West, 4-1, was led by Babson with 15 kills and four blocks, Phillips with 12 digs and two blocks, Hewett with seven aces and two blocks, and Simmons with 19 assists.