FULTON, Ill. — Despite dropping the first set 25-21, Fulton had every reason to believe it could force a third set and possibly take the high school volleyball match against Sterling Newman on Thursday. In Set 1, the teams played to a 15-15 tie, and even as the Comets steadily pulled away, Fulton hung close thanks to the net play of Chelsea Lesniewski and Betsy Leonard.
But, after playing back and forth through 10 points in Set 2, Newman’s Megan Rosengren stepped to the service line for an eight-point run, building a 13-4 lead. The deficit was too large to recover from and the Steamers were swept, dropping the clincher 25-15.
“They’re frustrated. We’ve had quite a few losses lately,” Fulton coach Stacy Germann said. The Steamers fell to 1-6 with the loss.
“We did get a little upset about losing the first one,” Leonard said. “I think if we worked on our defense more and became more consistent we could play a lot closer, especially in the second game.”
The eight-point rally by Newman was coupled by several smaller runs during Set 2. The Steamers were aced three time, but that number somewhat hid what Germann called a “serve-receive breakdown.”
“In Game 2, our serve-receive fell apart right from the beginning,” she said. Germann also said a mix of off-speed hits by the Comets threw off the Steamers on defense. “Anything that was short and in front of us gave us a tough time. ... When your defense and your serve-receive are struggling in one night, that’s kind of a predetermined loss right there. It’s hard when you can’t get that pass up there to your setter.”
Fulton and Newman played to an 8-8 tie in the opener before the Steamers began to push a lead. Behind kills by Leonard, Fulton built its lead to 11-8, forcing a Newman timeout. The Comets then answered with a three-point swing, forcing an 11-11 tie.