WALKERSVILLE — In Tuesday’s season-opener between the Frederick and Walkersville volleyball teams, there were too many momentum shifts to count.
But Cadets coach Gabby Enriquez had a mathematical formula of sorts to describe the marathon match.
“Adrenaline times a thousand,” she said.
And that adrenaline was kicking in again during the final set.
Jordyn Pierce notched three aces in a row early in the fifth set, and Isabel Koselak delivered the hard hit that produced the match-winning point as Frederick pulled out a grueling but gratifying 18-25, 25-12, 30-32, 25-15, 15-6 win over the Lions.
“It’s definitely a game where the little things mattered,” Enriquez said. “And the girls worked really hard. It was all about not giving up.”
The Cadets didn’t give up when they dropped the first set, and they didn’t give up after watching Walkersville pull off a slew of gutsy plays to prevail in the back-and-forth third set.
“They had great hitters on their side, they had great defense,” Pierce said of the Lions. “They were putting up a fight, and we just knew we had to put everything we had into it.”
That’s the mindset Pierce had when she stepped to the service line to begin the final set.
“I really told myself, ‘Put everything you have into this set, and fight for your team,’” she said “And that’s exactly what I was doing.”
With her serving, the Cadets jumped out to a 5-0 lead. Three of those points came on Pierce aces, and she finished with seven, which is believed to be the team’s single-match record for aces.
“I was super excited because she’s my best friend,” said Koselak, who wasn’t surprised by the display but couldn’t help but to jump for joy when she witnessed it. “I think once we started getting our serves in, that’s when we started taking it up a notch and started to aim for spots.”
The Cadets benefited from strong serving throughout the final set, getting more aces from players like Nia Roberts, who also teamed up with Koselak to give the Cadets a strong presence at the net.
Koselak, who finished with 17 kills and seven blocks, took the final hit of the night. After pounding the ball over the net, she saw the ball go into the net after a Walkersville player valiantly tried to block it.
“I thought [her attempt] was going to go over, so I was ready to cover,” Koselak said. “But then it didn’t, so it felt like a sigh of relief.”
Whoever won this one was bound to feel that way.
The competitiveness reached a crescendo in the third set, with each team seemingly on the verge of pulling out a win.
The Lions finally won when Sarah Carter’s serve skimmed the net, and the Cadets had to scramble before hitting the ball out of bounds.
“They fought for that set, and I think that’s what took a lot of their energy away,” Lions coach Summer Bowins said. “I wish we could’ve kept that fighting going, but it does take a toll on the body.”
Nonetheless, she expected her team to come back fighting strong after this one, and she had no qualms with its fight on Tuesday.
Both teams return a slew of players.
The Cadets lost just senior from last year’s team. Roberts had 13 kills and four blocks. Setter Meghan Pierle, who drew praise from Enriquez, had 49 assists. Hannah Whang had 27 digs.
The Lions got plenty of big hits from lefty Jenna Abdinoor and big plays from Portia Strasburg.