MORRISTOWN Emily Lane hasn’t just been preparing for that first varsity victory all summer. The Mendham setter has been dreaming of the moment for three years.
And when it finally came, as the visiting Minutemen toppled Morristown, 25-17, 25-20, on Thursday afternoon, it was even sweeter than Lane had imagined.
“We were all extremely nervous at the beginning,” said Lane, a 5-foot-1 senior. “Everyone was so hyped and excited and ready to play. … We all played throughout August, so we all became very close. Having a win in our first game was the best feeling ever.”
After graduating nine players and losing two more to injury, Mendham’s roster is nearly brand-new this fall. But the Minutemen (1-0) pulled things together like veterans, capitalizing on Morristown’s mistakes.
The Colonials, too, had significant offseason turnover and are much younger than in the past. That inexperience showed in problems passing on Wednesday, Morristown’s second match (0-2).
Mendham scored the first five points, three of them aces by 5-foot-4 senior Annie Fox — another newcomer to varsity. She was 19-for-19 serving with six aces on Wednesday. Senior outside hitter Shelby Chasin, a returning starter, led the Minutemen with seven kills, two digs and an ace in the early season matchup of NJAC-United rivals.
But Morristown didn’t back down, as middle Kayla Bush pulled the hosts even with three straight points on two blocks and a tip. The score seesawed until the Colonials put back-to-back balls off their own gym ceiling, then Chasin got a tip for a point and forced Morristown coach Bill Condon to call a timeout.
“It always feels good to perform well the first time, to know you overcame that first step,” Fox said. “Games are so different from scrimmages. … It’s like finally feeling like you’re in high school. It’s the ultimate goal.”
The second game was tighter, as Bush and 6-foot-1 senior Abby Schubiger used their superior size at the net. Schubiger had three kills and two blocks. Bush added four blocks and three kills, including another great run to pull the Colonials to 10-9 in the second game.
“We’re hopeful and optimistic,” said Schubiger, who has verbally committed to play basketball at Colgate. “It’s the same system. We’re feeling each other out, learning our strengths, being more aggressive. Those all come with time, practice and meshing together, just chemistry. We need to trust each other more and all support each other. Believing in ourselves and confidence are things we need to grow.”