Grace Chris­tian loses in MISAL tour­na­ment fi­nal

Vol­ley­ball team falls in four sets to King’s Chris­tian

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By TAMMY SHOWALTER tshowal­ter@ somd­news. com Twit­ter: @ tam­lyn­nusa

It was for all the mar­bles Fri­day night as the two best vol­ley­ball teams in the Mary­land In­de­pen­dent Schools Ath­letic League faced off on the court for the cham­pi­onship at Southern Mary­land Chris­tian Academy in White Plains

The Ea­gles of King’s Chris­tian Academy came in with an un­de­feated record and the Knights of Grace Chris­tian Academy en­tered the matchup with only two con­fer­ence losses.

And the third meet­ing of the sea­son be­tween the two teams ended with KCA mak­ing his­tory with its first MISAL tour­na­ment cham­pi­onship, win­ning in four sets by scores of 25- 19, 22- 25, 30- 28 and 25- 16.

Ea­gles head coach Ardella Fry said on Sun­day that it was all still sink­ing in as her team com­pleted the 2016 cam­paign with a per­fect 14- 0 record.

“It was a lot of fun,” Fry said. “They are re­ally ex­cited; after­wards they were cry­ing, laugh­ing, jump­ing up and down. They were chat­ter boxes on the bus all the way down and singing. That’s how it is, but the other team was good and it’s nice to win against a team that’s good. Ev­ery year they are our ri­val, but it’s a happy ri­val. The girls are al­ways nice on the other team. They know sev­eral of the girls by name.”

With the match tied at a set apiece, the third set chal­lenged both squads with its en­durance, tech­ni­cal skill and team com­mu­ni­ca­tion. It fea­tured six set points, but ul­ti­mately the Ea­gles won 30- 28 on a men­tal mis­take with a net call whis­tled against the Knights.

Fry said it came down to trust for her team.

“The girls had never gone up to 30 be­fore. I was on the edge of my seat. My heart was pound­ing, but I just kept think­ing, ‘ OK Lord.’ This is where it all comes; you go back and forth and you have to re­mem­ber to stay calm. That’s what hap­pened in our se­cond game. We lost fo­cus and got too scared. We were let­ting that ex­cite­ment of being there get into our head and the girls had to set­tle and re­mem­ber to trust each other on the court and use their com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills and that’s what our girls do re­ally well.”

KCA ju­nior Car­men Doig, named All- MISAL player of the year, led the Ea­gles with 10 kills and 20 digs. Heidi Har­ris fin­ished with 10 kills, four aces and 17 digs and Sarah Long had 18 as­sists, 18 digs, seven kills and five aces. Har­ris and Long were named to the All- MISAL first team.

Doig said it was when her team put their faith in God, they came back and re­mained strong, and it was also the team that made it pos­si­ble for her to win the player of the year award.

“It’s a six- player game. It was an honor to re­ceive the award, but I needed my team with me.” she said. “Tonight, in the se­cond game when things kind of went down, we were start­ing to lose fo­cus as to why we were there, but God gave us the strength. There was no other way we could have come back and won that. The third set, hon­estly we prayed. Yeah, we were able to get in their heads a lit­tle bit and psych them out a lit­tle bit.”

KCA out­side hit­ter Abby Vallejo said it took a lit­tle while to get go­ing and mov­ing their feet.

“I feel like we re­ally worked hard. We worked as a team, and even though it took a while to get go­ing, we al­ways end up trust­ing each other. We al­ways end up fight­ing for each other. We al­ways try to shake the mis­takes off. The team got to me per­son­ally and threw me off, but I was able to come back.”

Xela Fry, daugh­ter of the head coach, said she was hav­ing flashes of play­ing in mid­dle school for her mother.

“Oh my good­ness. This is just my dream for se­nior year to end with a good game, es­pe­cially with peo­ple that I love to play,” she said. “I love to play Grace. It’s good com­pe­ti­tion and we re­ally haven’t had that through­out the sea­son and it’s just a great way to end my se­nior year.”

Ana Allen and Han­nah Melvern earned first team All- MISAL hon­ors for Grace, while Olivia Lan­ham and Muskan Mal­ho­tra re­ceived se­cond- team hon­ors and Kar­leigh Co­hen was an honor­able men­tion se­lec­tion.

“The first time we played them, we were some­where in never land, we don’t know,” said Allen, a ju­nior, “so the next time we were so de­ter­mined and mo­ti­vated to get them. Each game we im­proved by points, by mo­ti­va­tion, by hus­tle, and this time we didn’t come out vic­to­ri­ous, but we gave God all of our strength and power and we got next year.

“It’s great to play a sis­ter school be­cause they’re a first, we’re a se­cond so what else; no one else can chal­lenge us. They have some heavy hit­ters.”

Melvern, a se­nior, made her pres­ence known in the third set with a few aces and key points to keep the Knights ( 10- 6) alive.

“I think as a whole, we got in our groove bet­ter [ in the third set],” Melvern said. “They chal­lenged us to stay lev­el­headed and to not give up and just al­ways fight for the last point.”

Fry said she will re­turn next year to coach the Ea­gles.

“I started with some of the girls in mid­dle school and I’d like to fin­ish with them. Car­men will be a se­nior, and I’d like to fin­ish with her.”

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