Coming off back-to-back victories and undefeated in counter games, the girls’ volleyball team beat Episcopal for the first time in six years.
The Mavericks faced the Knights on Oct. 26 at Episcopal’s home court.
“We normally play better when there’s a lot of energy in the gym, whether it’s for or against us,” captain Alexandra Lewis said. “We went into the game knowing we could beat Episcopal no matter where we were.”
The Mavs lost the first set 25-18. Despite the loss, the Mavericks played through the set competitively. The front row set up consecutive blocks and the back row protected the defense.
After a fiery pep talk before the second set, the Mavericks came back to win the second by a slim margin (25-23).
The Knights rallied back and won the third set 25-21. Throughout the third set, the Mavs received technical calls, creating a larger lead for Episcopal. Coach Shelbi Irvin encouraged her players to keep pushing; the game still was not over.
“She told us not to give up because that was a tough game that we fought for,” Adams said. “We had the momentum coming out of that set and she told us to use it to the best of our abilities.”
With Irvin’s words fresh on their minds, the Mavericks pulled away with a lead in the fourth set and won 25-18, forcing the game to five sets.
The Mavericks closed out the final set with a four-point lead, and the crowd erupted into cheers while the players swarmed the court.
“It was unreal,” Lewis said. “We all knew we could do it, but actually winning was a whole different thing. We couldn’t have been more excited.”
On Oct. 19, the Mavericks pushed five sets for the first time in SPC-qualification games against the St. Stephen’s Spartans.
Captain Siena Zerr goes for a swing against the St. Stephen's Spartans. Photo: SJ Lasley
The Mavericks won the first set and lost the following two. Coming out after the two set losses, the Mavs began to play more aggressively on offense, with outside hitters stepping up and swinging. On defense, juniors Alexa Addison and Eliza Holt put down impressive blocks, and the Mavs won the fourth set.
In the fifth set, the Spartans quickly gained a substantial lead of five points over the Mavs, and many spectators thought the game would soon be over.
The Mavericks rallied back point by point until the Spartans led 14-13. The Mavericks won the next point, tying the game and bringing the service over. The Spartans won the next point. The pattern continued and tensions throughout the gym increased. At last, the Mavs led 16-15, and ended the rally with a swing to the back row.
The ball bounced out of bounds, and the gym expected a new service and an even longer game. With a slight delay, the referee called a touch on the Spartans, giving the Mavericks the point and a reason to celebrate.
“Our whole team knew that this was our year,” Lewis said. “We wouldn’t let anyone get in our way.”
The next morning, the Mavs faced the Highlanders of St. Andrew’s. The Mavs won the first set 25-20. To begin the second set, freshman Morgan Grace served four consecutive aces. The Highlanders received consistent technical calls, and the Mavs won the second set 25-12. The Mavs quickly closed out the last set with a 10 point lead (25-15).
Junior captain Celia Adams reaches to top the ball into an empty zone on the Crusader’s side of the net. (Photo: SJ Lasley)
According to the captains, the team’s success largely relies on the close team dynamic that they have fostered this year.
“This team is closer than any other team I have ever been a part of,” Adams said. “Our friendship translates onto the court, and it’s honestly so fun to play with everyone.”
The Mavericks remain undefeated in counter games and enter SPC this weekend in Dallas as the No. 1 seed.