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1 month ago by Jim Hill - The Voice of the Eagles

FORGE VOLLEYBALL: EAGLES DREAM SEASON ENDS WITH LOSS TO PATRIOTS

The year that put Forge Volleyball back in the discussion came to a mistake riddled  end on Saturday night at home to the First Colonial Patriots. The match was a 3-0 sweep but it was a much more entertaining and intense match that that score would indicate. The visiting Patriots won 25-22, 25-17 and 25-18 to advance to the State Semi Final @ Frank Cox on Tuesday night  The Eagles finished the year with a 22-4 mark, capturing their second Regional Title in school history.

There were two glaring reasons to pin on this loss. The Forge slow starts in all three sets, and their inability to go any kind of a run all night due to serve issues. It was tough for the “good gals” to mount any momentum in this one as each time they took control; the next serve would be either long or into the net, giving control back to the Patriots.

It is a different season when team’s get to the State Tournament and the Eagles did not handle the bright lights well. To steal a line from ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale, at this level, "there is no more cupcake city” referring to teams in post season are all strong opponents. The Patriots were as complete a team as the Eagles had faced all season.

The early part of the first set, the Forge was looking for a spark but after taking a 4-3 lead the visitors went on 7-0 run benefiting from the Forge hitting returns into the net or long on the baseline. First Colonial jumped out to an 11-4 lead, before Emma Lazerson drilled a LAZER to stop the bleeding.

The Eagles could not take advantage as the next serve nestled into the net and the Patriots increased their lead to 12-5. The Forge in front of a packed and boisterous barn, started to make a move of their own. Each point was contested and the rallies were exciting as each team wanted to take that first set advantage. The Eagles got kills from Elyssia Smith (E-Kill) and Kourtney Kynard and then the seniors combined for a block that cut the Patriots lead to 17-13.

That play got the crowd on their feet and when Simone Newell soared in for a kill the Forge had cut the lead to two at 17-15, and First Colonial needed a timeout to talk it over. Out of the timeout, Paityn Walker was in control of the serve, the pesky sophomore tied the set at 17-17 with an ace and followed that with another one, and just like that, the Eagles were ahead 19-17. Problem with that surge was the Forge would score only three more points the rest of the set and the Patriots would pass them for the 25-22 win and 1-0 lead.

The Eagles went to the break knowing that the first set was lost but definitely obtainable and they just needed to clean up their own house in the second to tie the match. Then what nobody wanted to happen coming out for the second became reality. The Forge lost the first six points of the second set, and were running up hill in the early going. Again, the “good gals” just could not sustain runs when they did have the opportunities in the second and kept serving into the net or placing them long to keep First Colonial in control.

The Eagles were trailing 11-7 with Lazerson serving when Newell buried a kill. On the next serve, Lazerson’s offering deflected off a Patriot player and went straight up, hitting the basketball hoop and dropping it straight down to the open middle for another point. Kynard skied northward on the next play and blocked a kill to cut the First Colonial lead to 11-10. Lazerson’s next serve hit the tape, sat there for an eternity and then fell in to tie the set. The slow start was a distant memory and the Eagles were back in it.

The two teams exchanged point’s midway through the set but the Eagles continued to make errors and lost the momentum and the Patriots marched out to a 19-13 lead The Forge tried to answer but serves again found the net at the worst times, and then First Colonial started to smell blood. The Patriots were on top 21-16 late when one of their returns was deflected by the Eagles at the net, and fell right in the middle of the floor as the Forge had one of those “I got it, you take it” moments. After that play, the Eagles had no answer and the second set went to the Patriots 25-17.

What would be the final set of the season saw a Forge team battling for their lives throughout. This group was not going to go out easy and they scratched and clawed the entire close third set. The set was tied 9 times and the final tie was at 12-12 on the final Lazerson Lazer of the senior’s career. First Colonial took a 15-13 lead but the Forge was long on the next serve and the Patriots closed it out on a 10-5 run to secure their spot in the State Semi-final game on Tuesday.

TURNAROUND LIKE NEVER BEFORE:  The tears were real on the floor post match but this is a group that was resilient all season long. A program that went from 7-13 in 2017 to an incredible 22-4 this year is what folks will be talking about long after this year is done. It was not the most talented team the Forge has had in its history, but you would be hard pressed to find a team more focused. If you told me last fall that this team would rebound with a regional title and a state championship appearance, I would have thought you were crazy, but we all know there are some crazy people in the world. A HUGE THANK YOU to this team, and to Coach Guengerich and her staff for putting this program back to where it should be. It is hard to win a State Championship, but with this team, we have a lifetime of memories. FORGE VOLLEYBALL IS BACK and tonight’s postgame tears were ALL SMILES in the gym earlier in the year and that is what we will remember!


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