CLINTON -- North Middlesex made it two consecutive wins over the Gaels, dispatching Clinton in straight sets Wednesday evening, 25-10, 25-10, 25-16.
The teams battled back and forth for the first point off of senior Madison Radlock's serve. Senior Rebecca Garnder turned away a strong return from the Gaels offense to give the Patriots a 1-0 lead in game one.
North Middlesex head coach Mark Roy was very pleased with his team's performance in the win. "You come into Clinton, and you know Janet is going to do a great job with her team. The girls did outstanding. Everyone got a chance to play," said Roy.
The Patriots would take advantage of the Gaels miscues, scoring five-straight points to begin the first set. Leah Acuaviva sent the ball sailing over the net, where she was greeted by the outstretched palms of Clinton defender Maria Hebert, giving the Gaels their first point of the night at 6-1.
The Gaels would get two more points on the board off a pair of Patriots' blunders to pull within three. After that, game one belonged solely to North Middlesex. The Patriots were able to push their lead out to as much as 10 points during the later stages of game one off a Clinton service error. The Gaels tried to battle back, but the Patriots offense remained in sync and capitalized on all of Clinton's mistakes.
North Middlesex took nine out of the game's final 13 points to run away with the win, 25-10. Among the top Patriots performers in game one were senior
Alysia Pearce got the Patriots started on the right foot with three consecutive aces that brought the North Middlesex contingent to their feet. The Patriots sprang out to a 4-0 lead, and consistently extended their lead throughout the match. A service error by the Patriots gave Clinton a point, cutting the deficit to 4-1. North Middlesex caught fire as the match waged on. They bombarded the Gaels with two separate 5-0 service runs.
Clinton simply could not find an answer to the Patriots' aggressive attack. The Patriots would go up by 10 points on three different occasions down the stretch to clinch the match. North Middlesex's Jackie Potvin registered two nice serves in game two, as the Patriots disposed of Clinton 25-10 for the second time. Despite the loss, Clinton's Sandra Tobojka had some very strong serves for the Gaels.
North Middlesex ran into their biggest test of the evening in game three. The Patriots began the final set on a 5-0 run that was interrupted by a Marshall service error, giving the Gaels their first point of the match at 5-1.
Clinton coach Janet Carey attempted to rally the girls between games, and it began to seep in as the final set waged on. The Gaels took advantage of some Patriots' miscues to inch themselves back in the match. North Middlesex was up 8-1 when a string of mishits struck them, letting the Gaels pull back within five. The Patriots and Gaels exchanged scoring for the next few points. Radock rifled a picturesque serve over the net for an ace to highlight the Gaels 5-0 run, bringing them within one at 10-9.
The success was short-lived though, as the Patriots rattled off five straight points to extend their lead to six. North Middlesex's 15th point was made possible by Marshall and Acquaviva. Marshall set the ball beautifully as Acquaviva hammered it home, giving the Patriots a 15-9 advantage.
Clinton would not go away quietly. Senior captain Michaela Baer sent a firecracker over the net, trimming the Pats lead to 16-11. The Gaels would get a point back on their next possession with a wicked strike by senior captain Monique Daniels that was too hot for the Patriots to handle, bringing it to 16-12.
North Middlesex eventually regained control of the match, outscoring the Gaels 9-1 down the stretch. The Patriots brought home their second victory over Clinton in the same week, 25-16. Sam Roberts chipped in five kills while Marshall contributed eight assists to help key the Patriots win over Clinton Wednesday. Samantha Jurgilewicz wore out the left side of the court out with her crisp hustle plays.
North Middlesex's victory played a large role in the development of some of the younger players on the roster. "One of the big things we worked on was back-row hitting," said Roy. "We also had an opportunity to play some of the younger kids at different positions, which is huge in their development." One of the underclassman players, Morgan Perry, did not disappoint with her strong play in the win.