'Jacks show promise – and room for improvement

ARNOLD – There were some promising takeaways for the Skipjacks in Wednesday night's women's volleyball match despite being swept by host Anne Arundel Community College, 25-16, 25-21, and 25-17.

Katie Worm had a pair of rally-sparking service runs in the final two games, helping the Skipjacks temporarily erase deficits in both contests.  Sydney Butler did a little bit of everything, as her stat line – three kills, three aces, three assists, two blocks – confirmed.  Montana Dye hustled her way to a team-high six digs, and Carla Marfe led the team with five assists for an all-freshman squad with even limited high school playing experience.

"We did a lot better than I thought we were going to do," said Michelle Dennis, Chesapeake's first-year head coach.  "I was surprised at how well we played."

Despite stretches of strong play, the Skipjacks were undone by their own miscues.  Chesapeake's 10 hitting errors and nine service errors accounted for just over one-quarter of Anne Arundel's points.

"We had a lot of unforced errors," acknowledged Dennis, who said the match identified "things we need to continue working on in practice – transition, movement, getting off the net."

Chesapeake stayed close to its host in Game 1 until the Riverhawks used a 6-1 run to build a 16-9 lead.  Samantha Hebb and Samantha Lauer each had kills for Anne Arundel during the run, but the Riverhawks' other four points all came on Skipjack miscues.

Anne Arundel had a 10-8 lead in Game 2 before the Skipjacks answered with a 5-0 run, the final four points on Worm's serve.  The Riverhawks committed four hitting errors and were called for two hits on the other point in Chesapeake's 5-0 surge, leading Anne Arundel head coach Adriane McDivitt to call timeout.

That break seemed to settle the hosts, who answered with a 4-0 surge built around two Emelyn Wilkerson aces.  Chesapeake tied the game on three more occasions, the last two times on Courtney Stubbs kills, but Anne Arundel used another 4-0 run to break away from a 16-16 tie and take the lead for good in Game 2.

Katrina Zinn started Anne Arundel's go-ahead streak with an off-speed hit that landed on the side line and then ran off three straight service points.

Anne Arundel raced off to another early lead in Game 3, amassing an 11-6 cushion, only to have Worm lead another Chesapeake comeback with her serving.  The freshman from Colonel Richardson High, whose serving success depends on placement rather than power, served the final four points in a 5-0 run that created an 11-11 tie.

"I was just looking for the spot," said Worm, who noticed a weakness in Anne Arundel's serve-receive.  "First time I was serving it there [up front on Anne Arundel's right side], they weren't picking it up, so I kept going for that."

Like so many other Skipjacks, this was Worm's first experience with competitive volleyball.

"We are really inexperienced.  I've never played in my life before – I played soccer in high school, but they needed girls and I love sports," noted Worm, who said the Skipjacks fed off each other's success during their solid stretches of play.  "You make one good hit and the whole team has a lot of confidence.  We just build on each other."

Jaelyn Brice created the 11-11 tie with an impressive kill, but was more pleased with her team-high three blocks.

"Blocking is my favorite," said Brice with a smile.

Brice, who played on last year's Region XX championship women's basketball team, said her only previous volleyball experience came as a senior at Westlake High School.

"There's a lot of potential here," said Brice.  "Most of us only played maybe a year or two in high school at the most, but we're improving."

As they did in Game 2, the Riverhawks responded to a Chesapeake run with one of their own.  Anne Arundel broke away from the 11-11 stalemate by scoring six of the next seven points as Hebb chipped in with a kill and an ace to build a 17-12 lead.  Chesapeake never got closer than four points the rest of the way.

The Skipjacks' next match is next Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Allegany College of Maryland.  They open their home season – the first official match in the new Health Professions and Athletics Center – next Thursday at 7 p.m. against CCBC-Essex.