Lady Saints shake down

Published 10:45 pm Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Every sports fan knows that the final score hardly ever tells the whole story behind a game.

So it is with the girls’ volleyball match between Nansemond-Suffolk Academy and visiting Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School on Tuesday.

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy junior setter/libero Bridget Murphy serves during Tuesday’s home opener against Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School. The Lady Saints shuffled their rotation during the first two games, but came away with a straight sets win: 25-17, 25-19, 25-2.

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy junior setter/libero Bridget Murphy serves during Tuesday’s home opener against Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School. The Lady Saints shuffled their rotation during the first two games, but came away with a straight sets win: 25-17, 25-19, 25-2.

The Lady Saints won in straight sets, 25-17, 25-19, 25-2, but the match was probably never as close as the scores from the first two sets seem to indicate.

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Rather, NSA head coach Robyn Ross was using the first two sets as a shakedown period for her whole roster. According to the rules, a team is allowed to make 18 substitutions during the course of a match.

“I used all 18 of them, and I’ve never done that before,” Ross said.

She said she was subbing nearly every time the players rotated positions on the court.

“It was an opportunity to get everybody into the first home game and a good way for me to assess where everybody’s skill levels and nerves are when it comes to game time,” Ross said. “It’s important for me to see how players play in a match, as opposed to practice.”

With 12 players on the team compared to last year’s 8-member squad, giving everyone court time involves significantly more adjustments.

Senior outside hitter Kaylor Nash stayed on the court the whole match, shouldering an additional responsibility with the steady influx of younger players.

“It’s definitely stressful being the one on the court who has to tell people where they are supposed to be and where they need to go after the ball is served,” she said.

Even so, Ross was pleased with the night Nash had.

“Kaylor had a good game with 17 kills, and only one error,” Ross aid. “That’s probably the best stat of hers for the night — doing all of that and only having one error.”

Nash also contributed eight digs, four aces and one block.

“The third game was our regular lineup that we do every practice and every match,” Ross said.

Nash summed up the match: “First two games were closer than they should have been, but the third game we played really well.”

In terms of improvement from last Thursday’s match against Peninsula Catholic, Ross said, “We ran the middle much more effectively against Bishop Sullivan, but it’s hard to gauge, because Bishop Sullivan isn’t as tall as Peninsula Catholic.”

Nevertheless, Ross was happy with junior setter Brooks Gillerlain’s ability to connect with junior middle blockers Caylin Harris and Lizzy Fowler.

“One of the hardest things to do is connect with the middles, because it’s quick and it’s a low set and you don’t have much room for error,” the coach said.

Gillerlain recorded 34 assists and five digs, while Harris had 13 kills, three blocks and an ace.

“We missed way too many serves, and that is probably my biggest pet peeve,” Ross said. “So we’ll work on that this week in practice.”

However, some players did have a good service game. Of the younger players getting an opportunity, Ross was impressed with freshman setter/defensive specialist Logan Harrell.

“I think she got three jump serves and two of them were aces, so I was really pleased, because serving is probably the first thing to go when you’re nervous,” Ross said.

Junior outside hitter Kaitlin Werner was playing in her first Lady Saints home game since transferring from rival Greenbrier Christian Academy, and said it “was really exciting. It was a great experience. We had a bunch of fans here. That was a lot of fun.”

NSA (2-0) plays on Saturday in the Third Degree High School Tourney at the Virginia Beach Field House.