Crusaders spikers rally back

The Lauralton Hall volleyball team overcame a 2-1 game deficit and defeated Masuk of Monroe, 3-2 (22-25, 25-22, 17-25, 25-21 and 15-10) on Monday in Milford.

“It was inexperienced teams on both sides,” Lauralton Hall coach Seth Davis said. “It came down to which team fought hardest.”

Senior setter Allison Carey had eight service points, four aces, one dig and 29 assists for the Crusaders, who improved to 4-4 overall.

Junior Taylor Whittaker chipped in nine service points, two aces, two digs and 11 kills, and junior Ann Marie Guzzi had seven service points, three aces, two kills and two digs.

For Masuk, sophomore Gaby Castro-Rodriguez notched 13 service points, seven aces and 18 assists.

Emma Feeney had eight service points, five aces and nine digs and Kelly Neaton added three aces and nine kills.

Carey and Whittaker, two of the more experienced Crusaders, helped Lauralton battle back from on the brink of defeat after the Panthers cruised to a third-game victory.

“We are really inexperienced,” said Davis, who guided his squad to a Class M state semifinal berth last year.

“Six out our seven haven’t really played (varsity) before… But they kept the ball alive.”

After a win in the fourth game, where the Crusaders snapped an 18-all tie and took control on Whittaker’s service, Lauralton scored the first two points of game five.

Marietta Khalil fired in an ace and a service point, before Masuk (2-7) countered with a three-point run capped by Castro-Rodriguez’s ace.

A kill by the Panthers Kelly Heaton tied the match at 6 and Lauralton regained the lead, 9-7, on a hit from sophomore Alexandra Moleski.

Guzzi’s dump shot made it 11-9 and the Crusaders pushed their lead to 13-10 on won back serve to bring Guzzi to the line with a chance to serve out the match.

The junior did exactly that, dropping in a two serves to give Lauralton Hall a 15-10 win and seal the five-game victory.

“Our passing wasn’t as effective as we need to run an offense,” Masuk coach Stefanie Weise said.

The Panthers got off to a fast start, opening up a 17-9 lead in the first game and coasting to 25-22 win.

Moleski served Lauralton Hall to within 21-19, but the Panthers held on, winning game point following a big dig by Castro-Rodriguez.

Lauralton Hall rebounded to win the second game, with Khalil’s ace to close it out tying the match at 1.

Masuk then rolled to a resounding 25-17 triumph in game three, with the quartet of Castro-Rodriguez, Heaton, Feeney and Lauren Middlemass carrying the Panthers

The match was tied 9-9, but a 7-1 Masuk burst propelled it to victory.

Lauralton Hall dug in and won the next two games, reaching the .500 mark at the midway point of the season and snapping a two-game losing streak.

The Crusaders return to action with a road game at Bethel High on Friday at 5:15 p.m.,

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