- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
By JAMES A. McCRAY III
The Bishop Ireton volleyball outside hitters had to find one person when dealing with the St. Mary’s Ryken Knights on Monday evening.
When the Ireton hitters went high above the net, they had to ensure Ryken senior Cydney Smith was no place to be found.
Despite losing three games to none at home, 25-8, 25-22, 25-22, Smith had what Ryken first-year head coach Tracey Jubeck called her best match of the season at the net through seven matches.
Smith finished with a team-high 10 blocks in Monday’s loss, but it was her defensive play at the net that helped Ryken play Ireton (Va.) closely in Games 2 and 3.
“She is our leader out there,” Jubeck said of Smith. “She is our vocal leader, she has the passion, losing for her is the worst thing in the world and she just has the intensity.”
After only winning eight points in Game 1, the Knights came out in Game 2 and jumped out to a 6-1 lead and held a lead as deep into the game as 15-14.
After losing that Game 2 lead, the Knights battled back to tie it at 22 before Ireton closed it out with three straight points.
“I think our passing got a lot better,” Jubeck said of Game 2. “In the first game, our passing was really shaky and it was as if we weren’t getting an opportunity to run our offense. … But, once the passing [returned], our serving got a little off. It was just the mental errors that we had that added up.”
After winning its first three contests of the season, Ryken has dropped its last four games in a row, including Monday’s loss.
“For one, the competition has definitely improved without a doubt,” Jubeck said of the shift. “[We] came out strong at the beginning of the year and they know the level that they can play at. They have had a rough past couple of years, so right now it’s about building the team morale and confidence in them.”
Despite a late rally in Game 3 that pulled the Knights to within two at two separate points, 23-21 and 24-22, the Knights fell short in forcing a Game 4.
“We know what we need to work on,” Jubeck added. “But, we’re focused on getting them in gear so that in the second half of the season and into the playoffs, we can be starting to peak as we get into the playoffs.”
Jordan Aughinbaugh led the Knights in kills with six and Smith and Elise Carney each added three kills. Chandler Smith added two blocks for the Knights and Haley Ford totaled 13 digs.
Ireton head coach Kathy Gutmann admitted that it was her senior leadership that helped pull her team through after trailing in the second game and helped Ireton hold off a Ryken comeback.
“We talked a lot this season about peaks and valleys,” Gutmann said. “We talked about how it’s much easier to win when you don’t get into the valleys before you come back out.”
She added, “We came out, we played our game and then we got complacent and we didn’t do the things that we did well in the first game. We played well enough to win, just not to the level of the first game.”
Ryken (3-4, 2-4 WCAC) played at Paul VI (Va.) on Wednesday evening and is scheduled to host the Academy of the Holy Cross of Montgomery County at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Bishop Ireton (Va.) 3, St. Mary’s Ryken 0
Ireton 25 25 25
Ryken 8 22 22