The volleyball match between Hylton and Gar-Field Tuesday had all the makings of a rivalry game that is sure to keep fans excited for years to come: non-stop action, contention between family, and a tie-breaker set that could have gone either way.
“Not too much; I think it might get too real if we did,” said Hylton coach Lauren Wilson, when asked if she and coach Kelli Wilson smack-talked each other throughout the week. “We're on each others side, and we both joke with each other, but I'm sure we will next time though because tonight it was too close.”
This is Kelli Wilson's first year coaching Gar-Field volleyball, and the first time that the sister-in-laws have opposed each other on the court. The favorite coming into the match was Hylton, due to its height advantage and experience; the Indians' tallest player, Day'ona Bowden, is still nursing an ankle injury, and Gar-Field does not have a freshman team to train and help players grow into the sport, but as the match progressed, and the fans sat on the edge of their seats, it was apparent that Gar-Field is better than what their 3-5 record suggests.
Gar-Field's defense was solid throughout the match, with senior Giovanna Blanco digging many of the Bulldogs' kills. The Indians also displayed better tip coverage than in previous games, something the team has been working on in practice. With Hylton leading 6-3 in the first set, the Indians went on a 5-point rally to take the lead. The teams traded points to tie the set at 17, but kills by Hylton's Cassie Scantlin and Savannah Racine, and dink shots by Jelissa Washington and Hayley Racine helped the Bulldogs take the first set, 25-21.
Two unforced errors by the Bulldogs gave Gar-Field the lead to start the second set, but after tying the score at two, Hylton maintained momentum and won 25-19.
“The first two games we were really talking to each other, covering, and going for the balls,” said Scantlin. “The second two games we kinda lost the momentum a little bit. We weren't going for every ball.”
It wasn't only laziness that caused the Bulldogs to crash in the third set, but a loss of focus as well; Hylton committed 12 unforced errors. Additionally, Gar-Field sophomore Jasmine Swanger and senior Kianna Vivanco turned up the intensity. With Hylton leading 10-9, Swanger served an ace to begin a 6-point rally that the Bulldogs would never recover from. She served two more aces during the rally, and at only 5 foot 7 inches Vivanco was exceptional at preventing kills at the net. Gar-Field won the third set, 25-17.
“We've been working a lot on blocking because of our [lack of] height,” said Kelli Wilson. “I had a talk with her [Vivanco] because when the girls see her down our whole team follows. So, she definitely has stepped it up as a leader.”
The Indians maintained the intensity level throughout the fourth set, with Vivanco preventing kills and scoring on dink shots as well. Senior Olga Oleynik contributed a couple kills of her own, as well as an ace, and Gar-Field won the fourth set, 25-18.
In the fifth set, the Bulldogs jumped off to a 3-0 lead. The teamwork between Jelissa Washington and Scantlin was mind-blowing, with Washington perfectly setting the ball to a spot which allowed Scantlin to pick apart Gar-Field's defense with the kill. She had four kills in the final set to win 16-14.
“Traditionally, Cassie has been either hot or cold: she gets a kill or an error,” said Lauren Wilson. “Lately, we've been working on her decision making, and she's come a long way with her timing. It was her timing that came back in game five, but I think she made it come back. I'm most proud of their commitment to the fundamentals that we've been working on in practice, and they actually displayed it on the court.”
Hylton is now 6-5 (3-3) and plays Forest Park next. Gar-Field is 3-5 (2-4) and plays Woodbridge next.
Jelissa Washington: 44 assists, 14 digs. Cassie Scantlin: 29 digs, 14 kills. Hayley Racine: 19 digs, five kills. Savannah Racine: 22 killls, seven digs. Sara Momenni: two blocks, seven kills. Jordan Millard five kills, nine digs.
Giovanna Blanco: two kills. Rose-Ellen Mock: one kill, 25 assists, and two aces. Olga Oleynik: eight kills, one ace, and one block. Kianna Vivanco 14 kills, one ace, and one block. Keira Reyes four digs, three kills, and one block. Jasmine Swanger one kill, four aces, and one block. Jeyka Cabral and Kayla Watts both had five digs.