BRISTOL - The St. Paul volleyball team is moving on to the second round of the Class S state tournament after a 3-0 (25-16, 25-13, 25-16) win over first round opponent Innovation on Monday night.
The Falcons opened the first set by winning the first six points, kicked off by a block at the net by senior captain Kelsi Blatchley. Blatchley made her presence felt from that block until the end of the match as St. Paul never trailed.
“She was playing hot. You just have to feed her,” St. Paul head coach Devin Pecevich said. “When a player gets hot like that you have to keep giving them the ball. She was finding the open spots and making good contact with the ball, especially with her blocks too. She was [using] great footwork to get over to get to the ball. Even if she was a little late she still had her hands up and was making contact almost every single time.”
“I think it went really [well], I’m really proud of my team for getting past round one,” Blatchley said. “We had kind of a rocky start to the season, but I’m proud of us for getting it together and getting this win. I’m honored to be the captain and to be able to lead this team with other co-captains and I’m really proud of them.”
Senior Olivia Genovese put St. Paul up 10-6 in the first with three consecutive kills, highlighted by a delicate hit that snuck in between the Innovation players. Blatchley extended the lead to 13-7 with a pair of perfectly executed passes between her and fellow captain Alexis Carbetta.
The Ravens went on a five-point run with the Falcons at set point, but was St. Paul was able to stop the bleeding to take home the first set.
St. Paul breezed through the second set with four kills each from Blatchley and Genovese. Genovese gave the Falcons a 3-2 lead in the set and there was no looking back.
Innovation saved its most competitive set for last and was tied with St. Paul at 11-11 in the third set. The Ravens thought they had their first lead of the match when two players blocked a St. Paul spike at the net, but the Falcons ultimately recovered and won the point.
“We were passing the ball great,” Pecevich said. “Last time we played them they had a lot of good servers, so we knew we had to work on serve receive because that’s what it starts off with. I have no worries [about] our offense, it’s just we have to focus on getting that first pass off and set our hitters and our hitters take care of it.”
St. Paul moves on to face the winner of fifth seed Bolton and 28th seed Abbott Tech on Wednesday for an opportunity to reach the quarterfinal.
Matt Hornick can be reached at (917) 575-8957 or firstname.lastname@example.org