October 4, 2012

Over the past four years, Flint Hill and Good Counsel have built one of the most competitive volleyball rivalries in the area and provided a trio of hotly-contested City Championship matches.

Thursday night’s matchup in Olney was far from an instant classic, but for a Flint Hill team rounding back into form, the 25-17, 25-16, 25-18 win was another step forward.

The No. 4 Huskies (18-1) committed three errors and a double-hit in the first six points of an opening set riddled with service errors and net violations from both sides. But senior outside hitter Haley McClure put down a pair of kills to help Flint Hill pull away and take the set.

“We were making errors and there were so many [net violations], but we just had to let it go,” McClure said. “If we got mad, then we would have just made more.”

Flint Hill fell behind again in the second and their fourth net violation of the set — and third in a six-point span — gave the host Falcons (6-6) a 15-10 lead. But the Huskies responded with a furious rally that showcased the full array of their much-improved roster.

Allie Fellows set high to the outside for sophomore transfer Ally Ford, who pounded down one of her team-high 10 kills. Two points later, N.C. State-bound middle blocker Erica Narel stuffed a Good Counsel shot for another point. Falcons’ middle Sydney Dailey halted the run with a block of her own- but only for a moment.

After a Narel kill, Flint Hill sophomore libero Gracie Anderson stepped to the service line and tallied off 11 consecutive points, including a pair of aces to close out the set. The Huskies maintained their momentum with seven straight points to begin the third set with the help of a number of Good Counsel miscues and cruised to their first sweep of the Falcons since Oct. 2, 2009.

“We definitely didn’t play our best, but we were able to pull it out, and that’s what matters,” Ford said. “We had a little trouble getting our team chemistry down early this season, but we’ve gotten a lot better.”

The Huskies, who won five matches on Saturday to claim their own invitational title, carry a 13-match winning streak into the Garden State Challenge this weekend in Mahwah, N.J. Good Counsel is also in the 20-team field that features many of the top private school teams in New York and New Jersey and will give both teams an opportunity to gain valuable experience before the postseason.

“Having so many games close together is giving us more motivation and more fire ,” said McClure, who played on Stone Bridge’s Virginia AAA state finalist team in 2010. “We started off with little goals and we’re making them bigger.”

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