August 13th, 2012
Toppers Get Close, Come Up Short
Presentation extends Mercy, but Jaguars too much at end
Presentation Academy exploited its home-court advantage several times Monday night against visiting Mercy Academy, but the Toppers were unable to score at critical moments and fell 3-0 (25-15, 25-21, 25-20) in a hotly contested match.
The Toppers, playing inspired ball from the opening serve, had the crowd behind them and the Jaguars on their heels. Under first year head coach and Presentation alum Abbey Breit, the Toppers are playing with a resolve and urgency not seen in recent campaigns. But with a strong group of juniors and seniors, they tested the talented Jaguars through three tight sets.
"We're going to have to thrive on energy this year," mentioned Breit. "We talk a lot about being an underdog against so many highly ranked teams. The only way we're going to beat taller or more experienced teams is if we play with energy, passion and desire."
Mercy's Courtney Crable was the best player on the court as she managed to put away 14 kills for the match. Though the plucky Toppers defense and blockers got their hands on quite a few of the Jaguars' spikes, Mercy was just too good when the pressure was on.
"We're going to get everybody's best shot," said Mercy coach Todd Garvey. "They (Presentation) had a lot more energy and enthusiasm than we did. And with us being so young, we have to work really hard on communicating in an environment like this. It was loud tonight and we have to work on matching an opponent's energy and enthusiasm.
"I told the girls before the game that I know Presentation will play hard because Abbey is a really competitive player and coach. She's done a great job with them."
The Jaguars capitalized on several unforced errors by the Toppers and ran away with the first set 25-15. Presentation kept it close in the second set, as a big stuff block from Evans pulled them within two at 21-19. But the Toppers gave away the final three points of the set on a net violation and two service errors.
"We made a lot of errors tonight; a lot of service errors and some defensive errors," admitted Breit. "If we cut out some of those, I think the scores would have been much different and we probably could have taken a game. But the more the girls play together, get used to each other and the more experience they get, the better the results.
"We have a few girls who lead the way in seniors Lauren Hamilton, Erin Evans and Brittany Harris as well as junior McKenzie Eskridge," said Breit. "They've got plenty of varsity experience and they're stepping up and doing that for us. Everybody has a role and they know that and we expect them to play it."
Mercy jumped out to a 17-10 lead in the third set, but the Toppers mounted a 10-4 run to pull within one at 21-20. But a Crable kill and two Presentation errors gave the Jaguars a straight-set victory.
The Toppers play as tough an in-state schedule as anybody with matches against traditional powers Assumption, Mercy and Sacred Heart as well as Manual, Holy Cross and tournaments like the LVIT and the KVCA Challenge. Breit acknowledges that the tough tests are to prep her team to be as competitive and tough as possible in district and regional play.
"We definitely have a tough schedule early in the season, and all that we're looking for from the girls is that they continue to make progress," Breit stated. "We know that we're not going to win every match, but as long as they're doing the things we're asking them to do and they work hard and get better, then we'll be happy."