Mar. 16—GRAY — Gray-New Gloucester waited extra long to play its first-ever varsity volleyball match, but the Patriots wasted no time picking up their first varsity victory.
Hosting Lake Region in its inaugural match, Gray-New Gloucester swept the Lakers 3-0 (25-22, 27-25, 25-20) on Monday.
"It's really awesome that we were able to come together as a team and really push to get our first win as a varsity team," Patriots senior Amanda Kackmeister said.
The final score might have looked easy, but the Patriots (1-0) needed rallies in each of the first two sets to earn the sweep.
Freshman Mackenzie Gervais started the game with an ace for Gray-New Gloucester, but the Lakers (0-2) won the next three points and eventually got out to an early 8-3 lead. The Patriots slowly chipped away and took a 22-20 lead after three straight service points by freshman Errow Hinckley. Gervais closed out the first set with another ace, the seventh of the set for the Patriots.
"It definitely helped them to get the momentum there," Gray-New Gloucester coach Gary Powers said. "Lake Region was winning for most of the game, and we got into a rhythm and got some points going. You always want to get the first one and get your momentum going into the second one."
Lake Region took back the momentum at the start the second set, thanks to four straight service points from Hailey Gove. Another three service-point streak by Hinckley got the Patriots going, and after Gray-NG gave a point back to the Lakers, the Patriots won the next point and Kackmeister picked up a couple service points to draw closer.
Lake Region took a timeout up 18-15, but the Patriots quickly tied it 18-18 with Gervais serving.
The Lakers reached point at 24-22 with Johanna Vincent serving, but the Patriots won that set point and then Hinckley served them into the lead.
"It was nice to be able to know that we were still pushing, and we didn't just give up on the last point," Kackmeister said. "We knew we were going to be able to push through it."
Eventually Kackmeister finished off the set as the server.
"I'm lucky. I've got kids who play club volleyball, so they're used to being in that kind of situation where they just try not to even look at the score, they just go out and play," Powers said. "And that's what I try and tell them, 'Don't worry about the score, just play the game and do what you're supposed to do.'"
Lake Region coach Ryan Shible said the Patriots did a few things a little better than the Lakers.
"I think it's just sometimes consistency, whether it's passing in the back row or trying to get some serves moving around. Sometimes that can make the difference of a couple points," Lake Region coach Ryan Shible said. "(Gray-New Gloucester) did a good job moving the ball around, too, on their serve, and they had a couple good players at the front row that did a good job kind of keeping our players on their toes. That kind of just shows sometimes it just comes down to a few serves and hits. It seemed like it was a shootout. They did a great job with their serves, and I think we were pretty close to them. I think we got to work on playing in our zone a little bit better."
Gray-New Gloucester's Hannah Biron, right, gets into position to block a shot during Monday night's game against Lake Region in Gray. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo
Gervais served the Patriots to a 4-0 start in the third set, and after a Lake Region point, Gray-NG took the next four, with three coming on Madi Knight serves. Knight later served during an 8-0 run for the Patriots to make it a 23-15 lead. An out of bounds serve by the Lakers ended the match to give the Patriots their first program victory.
The win was historic for Gray-New Gloucester, but the future looks bright, too, with freshmen Gervais and Hinckley, sophomore Ali Cohen and junior Knight playing starring roles.
"You know, we have a young squad, but it's nice to have such strong players at such a young age that you can just build around," Powers said.
Unique volleyball season arrives, and many teams are ready to compete