SOMERS, N.Y.— One month ago, the Somers volleyball team was on the verge of the program’s biggest win in years. The Tuskers held a 2-0 lead against John Jay-Cross River and were only a few points from victory in the third game.
Everything unraveled for the Tuskers, however, and they eventually lost a five-set heartbreaker.
Last week they were out for revenge and they found it by defeating host John Jay 3-2 (25-19, 15-25, 25-20, 19-25, 25-23) on Oct. 11.
“I knew we could beat John Jay the first time we played them this season,” second-year Somers coach Kim Kelly said. “Unfortunately, a few things fell apart for us in the later part of the match and thankfully the team didn’t let up this time. I made it a point to remind them after each set we won that our job wasn’t finished. Maintaining their level of focus and energy was key. It was a defining moment for our team. It was a big confidence boost for us that will bode well going into our last week of regular season play.”
After dropping the fourth set, Kelly refocused her team.
“I stressed the need to keep playing aggressively, to not let up one ounce,” Kelly said. “That meant continuing to serve tough and executing on the zone I asked them to serve on the court. I also told them that keeping our errors to a minimum was critical. We talk a lot about the first six points and how crucial they are to determining momentum. Each of these factors were key to winning the match and they executed perfectly. I couldn’t have been prouder of them.”
Senior captain Liz Spencer had a field day distributing the ball, recording 44 assists. Pooja Rao was also critical in the win with 13 kills and seven blocks.
“The key was to stay positive and calm down,” Spencer said of how they pulled out the final set. “We wanted it so bad after the last time we played them and lost that we were getting too tense on the court. Coach Kelly told us to relax and play our game.”
Christina Vitale had five digs while Alyssa Klee came through with two critical aces to help them pull out the win.
The win over John Jay, an annual contender for a Section 1 championship, is something the Tuskers are proud of but they aren’t stopping here.
“It is a big deal for us to have beaten a powerhouse like John Jay,” Spencer said. “Our defining moment may have been winning that game or taking a set from (Walter) Panas. Looking back on our season so far, I think the pivotal moment for our team was winning the Rye tournament, which gave us the confidence that we needed to win against a great team like John Jay. Hopefully our true defining moment is yet to come.”
On Oct. 10, Somers swept Our Lady of Lourdes in straight sets, 25-19, 25-14, 25-19. Spencer (19 assists, four aces), Chloe Pittman (seven kills) and Vitale (five digs) led the way.
The Tuskers, who fell to defending Class A state champion Walter Panas 3-0 on Oct. 13, were scheduled to travel to Lakeland on Oct. 17. They host Brewster today at 6 p.m. and then welcome Carmel for a 6 p.m. game in their regular season finale.
“The keys for the rest of the season are to play with the same intensity we brought to the John Jay game and to be positive even when we get in a rough spot,” Spencer said. “If we continue to do these things, we should be able to end the season on a very high note.”