(Oct. 29, 2021) The Worcester Prep volleyball team earned its first win of the season last Thursday, topping the Gunston Herons in three games, in Berlin.
The Lady Mallards took the first game, 25-16. Excited for the victory, Coach Mike Kelley told the girls, “We still have 50 more points. Let’s go.”
The Prep squad came out on top, 25-16, in the second. The Mallards outscored the Herons 25-10 in the third.
“They played fantastic. Lots of energy, lots of good movement. They moved before rather then reacting and waiting for the hit,” Kelley said. “They took some risks and it paid off. They showed what they can do. It was our best team performance by far. From start to finish they put together a solid performance. They trusted, relied on and helped each other out.”
Kelley said the most impressive stat was the team getting 28 aces. Junior Haris Gjikuria had 18 of them.
“She was on fire,” he said.
She also had four digs and two kills.
Kelley said Gjikuria made a bet with him that if they won the match, he had to dye his beard pink for their final competition of the season. He said “absolutely.”
The girls made 88 percent of their serves (63 of 72). Of the nine serving errors, five of them occurred in the first half of the first game.
“[During a timeout] we said we needed to clean up the serving and if we do that we’d get the win. We went on an 11-1 run after that timeout. We only had four [serving errors] the rest of the way,” Kelley said.
Collectively, the team recorded 42 digs. Sophomore captain Natasha Richter led with 17 digs. She also had five kills and two aces.
“She’s an awesome passer,” Kelley said.
Senior captain Ashlyn Roselle chipped in with two kills, three aces, one assist and 10 digs. Sophomore Sara Freih contributed with nine assists, two aces and a kill.
Kelley made good on his bet and colored his beard for the team’s last regular-season match on Monday against the Holly Grove Eagles in Westover.
Worcester lost in three games, 25-11, 25-13 and 25-18.
Despite only winning one match, the girls improved throughout the season.
“Every single player got better, individual abilities across the board,” Kelley said. “The future looks bright.”
The team was young, with only one senior (Roselle). Two sophomores and one freshman were in the starting lineup.
“The girls had a lot of fun and they learned a lot,” said Kelley, who moved from assistant coach last year to head coach for the 2021 season.
Even after the final match, when the season was over, the girls still wanted to practice the next day.
“They enjoyed it so much they wanted to come out and have another practice,” Kelley said.
Some also plan to play club ball in the offseason to improve their game, which will only benefit the team next year.