Rams Rally for Come-From-Behind Win Over Maidens

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PERKASIE – Brittany O’Hara isn’t one to hide her enthusiasm.
Each kill from the Pennridge senior middle hitter is met with a smile and raised fist, but in Tuesday night’s showdown against neighboring North Penn, O’Hara saved her best for last, slamming down a kill for match point to put the finishing touches on the Rams’ dramatic come-from-behind win over a feisty Maiden squad (19-25, 25-16, 17-25, 26-24, 15-13).
Almost before her kill landed on the court, O’Hara’s face lit up with a smile, and she raised both fists in the air in celebration.
“Fantastic,” she said of the big win. “I couldn’t be happier right now.”
Losing, according to the senior middle hitter, was never a consideration.
“We were never going to lose,” O’Hara said.
For a while, it certainly looked as though the Rams might indeed lose their first league match.
They not only lost two of their first three games, but in game four, the Rams trailed by three late in the game before rallying for the win. They managed to top that in the winner-take-all fifth game, falling behind by four only to rise from the ashes once more.
 “It’s always a pull and tug,” O’Hara said. “I really respect the girls from North Penn.
“They have very talented girls. I knew it was going to be tough, but I’m really glad we pulled it out.”
On the other side of the court, the Maidens’ huddles sounded like the inside of an infirmary as the players coughed their way through timeouts.
“The girls have been sick for a week and a half – the entire team has been sick,” Maiden coach Bryan Yost said.
They undoubtedly weren’t feeling a whole lot better after watching Tuesday’s match slip away, especially after appearing to have the fifth and deciding game well in hand. They led 6-3 after a Nicole Kratz winner.
The Rams pulled to within one after an O’Hara kill and service ace only to watch the Maidens go back on top 10-6, thanks to a Lindsay Edgar kill and a Rams’ hit out of play.
The Rams made it a 10-8 game after a Jen Moyer kill from the middle and a Jenn Judkins service ace. A Pennridge net serve put the Maidens on top 11-8, but a Moyer winner was followed by back-to-back Maiden passing errors, allowing the Rams to knot the score 11-11.
“I just felt like in that last game we were going to win it, even when we were down three points,” Pennridge coach Dave Childs said. “We did that earlier in the year where we kept our composure.
“They’re really good about keeping their composure.”
A service ace by sophomore Jillian Bracken put the Rams on top 12-11, but a net serve knotted things up yet again. The Maidens were whistled for a carry, and when Yost questioned the call, he was given a red card, and the Rams were awarded a point.
The Maidens got a reprieve on a net serve by the Rams, but O’Hara made sure the reprieve was only temporary, delivering the big kill for match point.
“When we start getting enthusiasm and it starts building, it’s hard for girls to match what we bring to the court,” O’Hara said. “I think that enthusiasm really brought us out.”
O’Hara led the Rams with 12 kills and just one hitting error. She also had a game-high four aces. Moyer had eight kills while Jackie Youngers and Julie Bagley each had four kills. Bagley also had 11 digs and three aces while Youngers had five digs. Bracken, the Rams’ defensive libero, had 16 digs and three aces.
“A couple of big digs by Jillian kept us in it,” Childs said of his libero. “You don’t notice it unless you know the game, but when she leaves her position to go somewhere else to get the ball because she knows what’s going to happen before it happens – that’s what you need to keep rallies going, to keep your team alive.”
The Maidens were led by Devon Redilla, who had 10 kills, eight digs and four blocks. Kratz had seven blocks, seven digs, five kills and two aces while Miranda Sergas had 14 digs, five kills and one ace. Edgar finished the night with five assisted blocks and four kills.
“North Penn is probably the best team we played so far in our league,” Childs said. “They all swing at the ball and have some nice players over there.”
The Maidens certainly got off to a good enough start, turning an 11-9 lead into a 15-10 advantage in game one. The Rams cut that lead to two, but the Maidens went back on top 21-17 after a Redilla kill. A Kratz service ace put the Maidens on top 23-18, and they won it on a Stephanie Farrar block.
Game two was another story entirely as the Rams rallied from an early 4-1 hole to go on top 13-10 after a Bagley service ace. They still led 16-12 after an O’Hara kill, and then Judkins came up with a kill. The Rams stretched their lead to 21-14 after an O’Hara ace and coasted to the 25-16 win.
The Maidens appeared to take a stronghold in the match when they took control of game three. The two teams were deadlocked 9-9, but three straight Ram miscues put the Maidens on top 12-9. They led 18-13 after setter Kendra Allen dumped the ball over the net for a winner. Allen followed that with an ace, and a Redilla kill put the Maidens on top 21-13 as they rolled to a 25-17 win.
In game four, the Maidens opened up a 16-12 lead after a Redilla kill, but the never-say-die Rams came roaring back. A Judkins’ winner made it a 16-15 game, but the Maidens regrouped to take a 20-17 lead after a Miranda Sergas kill. They still led 22-19 after a Pennridge hit sailed out of play, but an O’Hara kill was followed by a Bagley ace, and when a Maiden hit wound up in the net, the two teams were deadlocked 22-22.
Another Bagley ace put the Rams on top 23-22, and then O’Hara worked her magic in the middle when – on a bad set – she redirected the ball toward the opposite sideline for a winner.
It’s a move, according to Childs, that O’Hara learned from Moyer at the preceding day’s practice.
“I don’t really have good dexterity in my fingers,” O’Hara said. “She knows how to do that, and I don’t, but I guess I learned something. I guess you can always be taught.”
“We needed points like that,” Childs said. “They gave us a lot of opportunities early on free balls and errors that we could have taken advantage of and didn’t.
“Tonight we really had to work through it and work for it.”
The Maidens used a Redilla block and a Kratz service winner to knot the score, but the Rams closed it out, capitalizing on a pair of Maiden errors for the big win.
The key, according to Bracken, is simple.
“Talking to each other and just sticking together,” she said. “When you mess up, you just let it behind you and keep on looking forward.
“We talk a lot, and we don’t let other things around us get to us. If we have a problem, we talk it out.”
The win upped the Rams’ league mark to 6-0.
“It’s a dream come true,” O’Hara said of her team’s strong start. “I’m just riding a high right now.
“I have been playing with some of these girls since I started playing volleyball, and that kind of chemistry is hard to get.”
The Maidens saw their league mark fall to 3-3.
“Finishing has been a problem,” Yost said. “We just can’t play a whole match at the same level. We’ll usually play good in game one and always play horrible in game two. We can’t play a solid match straight through.