For the first game of its volleyball tilt against host Middletown, St. Georges struggled to get its serve in, costing the team the first game and putting it in a hole.
The Hawks’ serve dramatically improved in the final three games to help set up their attack and push them past the Cavaliers 3-1 (12-25, 25-19, 25-16, 28-26) on Wednesday night.
“Our service game was in a little rut, so we had to get out of that, and after that first game, we were hitting where we wanted,” St. Georges outside hitter Shayne Sullivan said.
After losing the first game, the Hawks (4-2) jumped on Middletown early by scoring 11 of the second game’s first 14 points en route to taking a 22-11 lead. The Cavaliers scored seven in a row to cut St. Georges’ lead to four, but the Hawks squashed the rally.
St. Georges broke open a close third game with a 9-0 run that turned a one-point lead to a 19-9 edge before cruising to a 25-16 win and a 2-1 lead in the match. Middletown (4-3) started the fourth game strongly, building a 17-9 lead and prompting Hawks coach Lindsay Miller to call timeout to calm her team.
“I told them that we didn’t want to say here and go to the fifth game,” Miller said. “In fifth games, the team who won the fourth game usually has the momentum going into that game. And in the fifth game, you even have a shorter amount [of time] to get started and get those points.”
St. Georges responded with an 11-3 run to tie the game at 20 and set up a tense final stretch in which both teams had two chances to win. The Cavaliers had the first opportunity at 24-22, but the Hawks scored three straight points to take the lead and set up match point.
Middletown fought off defeat with two straight points and was one point away from extending the match. But St. Georges rallied with three straight points, two via soft kills by Sullivan, to win the game 28-26 and take the match.
“When it’s back and forth like that, you have to find a way to get that one point,” said Sullivan, who had a team-high 17 kills, five digs and four aces.
Haley Dunfee dished out 33 assists to lead the Hawks, while Kristin Sullivan and Jenna Burchfield had five digs each. Kylie Nicholson had nine kills for the Cavaliers. Middletown’s Emily Miller picked up five aces.