TOWNSEND -- The North Middlesex Patriots aimed to rack up their third win of the season, when they took to their home floor against a very potent Groton-Dunstable side (4-4 overall) and they were successful. North Middlesex swept the Crusaders in three straight games, 25-19, 25-17, and 25-23. The final score remained the same as when the teams last met in Groton to begin the season. With the win Wednesday, the Lady Patriots capture the season series with Groton-Dunstable and begin to take a step in the right direction.
The Patriots move to 3-7 on the season with the win and head coach Mark Roy feels they're starting to find their way. "I am hoping this will be the one that will turn it around for us. If you look at the individual matches, we're always within five points. Our record isn't indicative of how well we play."
The Crusaders came into Wednesday's matchup with a 3-0 win in straight sets over the Clinton Gaels on the road. The Lady Patriots came out guns blazing in a raucous gymnasium. Both sides of the bleachers were packed with navy-blue and red clad fans, as well as a strong contingent of Crusaders fans who made the short drive from Groton.
"In volleyball circles, it seems like some people are talking about us, but it's because this group of kids works hard. I walk in the door and they're ready to practice," said Roy. "The atmosphere you felt tonight is a testament to these kids' hard work."
Game one featured strong play by both teams, as North Middlesex started to pull away going on a 4-0 run when they jumped out to an 11-5 lead. The Crusaders kept on pecking away and kept keying on miscues committed by the Patriots. Groton-Dunstable was able to bring game one back to within two points. Both sides traded points in the latter half of the first game, much like racecar drivers trade paint.
The Patriots registered five straight service points to close out game 1 as they were able to stymie the Lady Crusaders attack as North Middlesex captured game one by a score of 21-19. The leading stat gainer for North Middlesex in game 1 was Marissa Smith, who registered four straight service points to close the door on the Crusaders comeback. On the other side of the net, it was Groton Dunstable's Alexa Busser, who contributed a team-leading three service points in game one.
Groton Dunstable took the lead early on in the second match, on a 3-0 run spearheaded by Busser and Leanne Mueller, who sent the ball over the net past the outstretched hands of the diving North Middlesex libero Sam Roberts to give the Crusaders a 6-2 lead. North Middlesex dug deep and kept themselves in the match by weathering the storm as the Crusaders were up 11-5.
The Patriots would march back into the match with three straight points in the middle of game 2, when they cut the lead to just one, making it 11-10. The Patriots came roaring back from four points down to 15-14 and tacked onto it, making the lead four with a 3-0 service run.
Roy wasn't surprised that the Lady Crusaders wouldn't go down without a fight. "I knew Groton Dunstable would come in strong, they're always pushing to get better," said Roy. "Our kids were just ready. We enjoy playing at home and good competition."
The Lady Crusaders and Minutemen duked it out in game three, as Groton Dunstable wasn't going to go quietly. Game three was all North Middlesex until towards the end, when the Lady Crusaders made a late charge in attempt to close the gap. Six straight points by the Lady Crusaders had every North Middlesex fan's nerves quivering. The Patriots would eventually close the door on the comeback as they managed to narrowly escape game three with a 25-23 win.
Junior Samantha Jurgileiwiecz was all over the floor in the win and she contributed three aces for the Patriots in the win. Jurgileiwiecz teammate, senior Sam Marshall had 14 assists.