The Section 9 Class B volleyball championship match-up didn’t pan out for Red Hook’s Lady Raiders, who lost to the Marlboro Dukes 3-1 in a four-game series Nov. 3 at SUNY New Paltz.
The Lady Raiders actually took the first match, holding second-seed Marlboro on their heels and forcing a bumps-only game, at least for the first half of the match.
Red forced a Dukes’ timeout at 11-5. Marlboro dug back into the game, and tied things at 21, but failed to score another point after Red Hook called a time-out after the tying point and lost 25-21. Advantage Red Hook.
But the script was flipped for the final three games. In game two, Marlboro hit their stride, going topside on the Raiders and leading by more than six points for most of the game, which Red lost 25-15.
The Lady Raiders had some pop in game three, managing to take a 20-18 after trailing and taking the game into extra points, but still they lost, 26-24. Game four was a wash; the depleted Lady Raiders tried to hold off a suddenly aggressive Marlboro set-game, but the Lady Dukes were too much. In spite of a late, five-point push, Red lost 25-14.
The loss concludes Red Hook’s season. Red Hook head coach Rachel Carter, like many of her players, was emotional after the game.
“I think that they are an amazing team and they worked really hard. They had to work to get here – it’s not handed to them. They’re never going to give up. They’re going to keep trying, they’re always going to keep working,” she said.
And work they did on the way to the championship bout.
Red Hook’s varsity volleyball squad bumped visiting Rondout Valley out of the gym in four games on Oct. 30 to grab their place in the championship round.
The semifinal was fundamental volleyball almost all the way in the opening game, with both Red Hook and Rondout keeping the ball low and holding the big swing out of the game. Red Hook let the Ganders keep the game close, going long on a couple of serves and missing on would-be spikes, but created distance in the middle points, and at one point led 17-9. Rondout rallied and managed to cut it close, but not close enough. Lady Raider Sophie Akoundi ended the game, 25-21, on a spike.
The Ganders looked like they had their feet set in Game two, going up 4-0 on a spate of Lady Raiders mistakes. Red Hook, though, again walked through the middle points and grabbed the game, 25-19.
Game three was a thriller. Rondout was in control through most of the game, jumping out to an 11-8 lead. Red rallied, tied the game at 13, and swapped points with Rondout until the final frames. The last minutes were the stuff of professional matches, with the crowd losing its mind before spikes and going completely silent while the ball was in the air. The teams tied at 24, 25, and 26 before the Ganders nabbed the game, on a botched Red Hook spike, for a 28-26 win.
“At this level, with this kind of pressure, anybody can get nervous and make some mistakes,” Carter said of the game.
The Lady Raiders weren’t about to sit back and play shot-for-shot with the Ganders again. For Game four, Red Hook left Rondout Valley in the dust after getting the lead to 4-2, at different junctures leading 13-8 and 19-8 before a missed Rondout Valley serve iced the game, 25-12.
Carter was all smiles after the semifinal match. “Obviously, I’m ecstatic,” she told The Observer. “It was great to come in here and take the big cupcake.”
“We think we’re championship-ready,” she added.
After the championship loss, Carter noted that next year’s loss of seniors Sophie Akoundi, Amanda Bard, Adrianna Spucches, Erica Mansfield, and Kaela Schram will be difficult.