McHenry, MD – Conference wins over Chesapeake College and the College of Southern Maryland – currently a combined 0-8 this season – may not have said much about the improvement in Garrett College's women's volleyball program. The Lakers, however, made that case much more convincingly with Saturday's tense, four-set triumph over visiting Community College Baltimore County-Essex (5-7 overall, 2-3 league).
After the teams split the first two sets – 25-21 to the Lakers in the first; 27-25 to Essex in the second – Garrett gutted out a 25-23 win in Set 3 and then rolled to a 25-16 victory in Set 4 to wrap up the triumph.
"Each of the first three sets could have gone either way," said GC head coach Kim Windstein Harsch, whose squad improved to 4-2 overall and 3-2 in the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference. "In the huddle before Set 4 I asked the girls to give me everything they had left, 100 percent effort in the last game to close it out. They rose to the challenge."
The Lakers finished with an 87-58 advantage in digs, illustrating their defensive dominance. G'Vahn Pace (team-high 3 aces, 2 kills) had a game-high 26 digs while Lauryn Moon (ace) was close behind with 25 digs.
"Our defense did a great job of not letting the ball hit the ground," said Windstein Harsch. "G'Vahn and Lauryn were coming out of nowhere to make digs.
"In volleyball everything starts with a pass; if our passers don't pass well our setter can't set our hitters, and we don't score points," added Windstein Harsch. "Those two [Pace and Moon] were able to anchor our back row to make Sami [Kennell, GC setter] and our hitters' jobs a little easier."
Offensively, Teyaurra Harris (ace) contributed a team-high 12 kills while also providing 10 digs on defense. Kennell (2 aces, 2 kills) kept the offense running with a game-high 26 assists and pitched in to the team-wide defensive effort with 13 digs.
"Sami does a great job of orchestrating our offense," said Windstein Harsch. "You could compare her position to the quarterback of a football team. We really rely on her to get our hitters a ball they can put away."
Essex teammates Ann Benziner and Annette Thrappas tied for game high with 13 kills apiece. Heather Bertling and Sabrina Bradford each had 16 assists for Essex while teammate Nicole Lopez Santos chipped in a team-high 18 digs.
Hagerstown Community College (6-3, 3-0) swept the Lakers, 25-13, 25-9, and 25-17, last Friday. Kennell (12 assists, 11 digs, 1 ace) led the Lakers in three key categories while Moon had a team-high 20 digs.
"I was pleased to see the way we bounced back from the Hagerstown loss against Essex," said Windstein Harsch. "I am very happy with where we are sitting after six matches. This is the best start that the program has had since I took over the team five years ago.
"It's a big testament to the girls and the hard work they've already put in at the gym to get where we are now," she added. "We have a big day on Friday with two tough matches at Potomac State against Region XX DII Opponents."
Garrett College is scheduled to host Westmoreland County Community College Wednesday night at 6 p.m. The Lakers will play Cecil College at 5 p.m. and host Potomac State College of West Virginia University at 8 p.m. in a Friday night tri-match.