Hosting the Little Green at Charles J. Quinn Gymnasium Monday night, the Blue Knights lost the first set, 29-27, in overtime, but won three out of the next four sets, including a decisive 15-7 triumph in the finale to earn the 3-2 win.
“When we played at Central, we knew we were a much better team than we showed … we still had some hiccups tonight, but when we play without fear and play with intensity, I’m confident we can play with anyone,” said West head coach Josh Wilson. “I think, mentally, we hung in there when there were times in the past we wouldn’t have, and I think the girls did a great job in working hard and not giving up tonight.”
After Central’s dramatic victory in the first, West bounced back with purpose, winning the second set 25-8. The teams traded wins in the third and fourth sets, 25-21 and 27-25, respectively, before West pulled away in the fifth match to take the contest.
The Blue Knights improved their record to 3-7 on the season, and the Little Green fell to 2-8.
The result on the court was only half the story, however, as the energy inside the Westside gymnasium was palpable as the foes battled back-and-forth for Queen City bragging rights.
“When you play Manchester teams, you’ve got to be up for it,” said Central head coach Ed True. “It doesn’t matter what your record is. One team could be 10-0 and the other 0-10, it’s still a big game and always has been in the 24 years I’ve been coaching.”
With the city clashes now in the rearview mirror, both teams look to finish the season strong.
Next up for West – spearheaded by senior captains Ajaelah Poulin and Carina Richard – is a Wednesday evening home matchup against 8-2 ConVal at 5:45 p.m.
“They both bring a lot of spirit and are just fantastic young women,” said Wilson of his leaders. “They play hard. They show up everyday and compete.”
Poulin, in particular, showed the heart of her team Monday night, coming in late in the fifth set to redeem an off-night with a couple pivotal serves to help secure the team victory.
“That’s the kind of thing you love as a coach, when someone can be selfless and sit there when it’s not her day and then be ready at the drop of a hat to go in and make big plays for her team,” said Wilson.
Central now travels to 3-7 Fall Mountain for a 5:15 p.m. contest Wednesday.
“I’m confident we can pull off a few more wins,” said True. “We just need to seize those opportunities against teams we can really compete with.”
Central is led this season by captains Emma Blaisdell and Lydia Mann.
“They bring a lot of energy and great attitudes,” said True. “You know, they’ve been on the team the last four years, so they bring a lot of leadership and a lot of caring and a lot of heart for this team and for Central.”