LANGDON — The Fall Mountain High School volleyball team couldn’t climb out of a 2-0 hole in their 3-1 (25-18, 25-19, 22-25, 25-17) loss to Sunapee High School in Langdon on Thursday.
The Wildcats kept it close throughout all four sets, but it was the Lakers who found a way to close out and earn the four-set victory.
“I think that both teams are very well-matched,” said Fall Mountain head coach Missy Swift. “[Sunapee] has a couple of really nice servers and they’re very good at placing wherever they wanted to put the ball and we struggled a little bit to get to those. It was a very well-played game.”
Fall Mountain hit the ground running in the first set, winning the first three points, but Sunapee responded with three of their own to quickly tie it up.
It continued to be a back-and-forth battle between the two teams, with some impressive dives and blocks on both sides to keep the score close.
The Lakers pulled away late in the set, going up 20-15 on their way to a 25-18 first-set win.
Again, the Wildcats took the early lead in the second set, but quickly fell behind 9-3 as Sunapee found their rhythm on offense.
But Fall Mountain came storming back, scoring the next six points to tie the set at nine apiece.
The teams went back-and-forth from there again. Sunapee led 18-17 late in the set, before putting together a 6-0 run to take a 24-17 lead. The Wildcats scored the next two, but the Lakers got their final point to take the second set 25-17 and earn a 2-0 lead in the match.
Fall Mountain junior Chloe Bardis made some crucial digs throughout the set to keep the Wildcats close.
“Chloe had a great game,” Swift said. “She’s very focused on what she’s doing.”
With their backs against the wall, the Wildcats had to win the third set to avoid the sweep. This time, it was Sunapee who took an early lead in the set, scoring four of the first five points thanks to perfect ball placement along the edges of the court.
Fall Mountain senior Mary Ronning extended a long volley later in the set with a block — one of many for her on the night — which got the team, and the Wildcat fans, excited. Fall Mountain ultimately lost that volley, but Ronning’s block added a spark to the Wildcats offense. The Wildcats went from down three to up three, taking a 12-9 lead in the third set following the block.
Once again, the teams were in a back-and-forth battle, exchanging points, and the Wildcats eventually extended their lead to 22-16, forcing a Sunapee timeout.
Coming out of the timeout, Sunapee made a push for the third set comeback, scoring six of the final nine points, but the Wildcats held on to win the set 25-22 and stay alive in the match.
The start of the fourth set was much of the same back-and-forth action, but eventually Sunapee got out to an 18-10 lead and never looked back from there. The Lakers won the fourth set 25-17 to win the match.
Fall Mountain junior Maddy Manning was all over the court throughout the night, doing her part to keep the Wildcats alive.
“I think Maddy was really with it,” Swift said. “She’s developed into a really nice leader and she’s still just a junior. She’s got great volleyball skills.”
There will be no NHIAA playoffs this year for Fall Mountain, as the school decided to only play teams in their region, but they have one more match this season, against Hanover, next Wednesday.
“We just want to keep playing,” Swift said. “We don’t want to stop playing, but we’ve decided not to play outside our region so we’re going to play the game with Hanover and that’s going to be it.”
“In June I thought we weren’t even going to be in school, let alone having fall sports, so we’re just really glad to be out here,” Swift added. “I’m really proud of our kids.”