MANASSAS Twice, Osbourn Park stood on the verge of winning a game against Forest Park. Twice, the Yellow Jackets watched as those leads evaporated and the Bruins, instead, were winners.
In Tuesday’s battle of unbeaten teams, the Yellow Jackets lost in three games in a match that didn’t lack drama. Forest Park’s 16-14, 15-11, 16-14 victory kept the Bruins undefeated at 8-0, while the loss dropped the Jackets to 6-1.
The first and third games were similar, as the Jackets built up sizable leads early. In that first game, the advantage was as high as eight points. But with OP just two points away from closing out a win, Forest Park began its comeback.
It wasn’t so much what the Bruins did, it’s what the Jackets did to themselves. The Jackets led 13-5, but a ball hit into the net and a couple of errant kill attempts later, the lead was down to 13-10.
After OP made it 14-10, the Bruins completed their comeback by scoring six unanswered points to win the first game. Forest Park’s Marisa Gross cemented the win, drilling a spike just out of the reach of OP’s Lindsey Thorne.
“I don’t think we lost any wind [after the first game],” said Jackets’ coach Kate Southcott. “Constantly, no matter who we’re playing, we get comfortable when we’re up 8-2. A few mistakes and it’s 8-5, and then we’re running scared.”
The third game wasn’t much different from the first. Although the teams traded sideouts through much of the first part of the game, the Jackets did manage to pull ahead. A spike from OP’s Kaitlin Crutchley pushed the Jackets’ lead to 6-0.
Forest Park never allowed the lead to get unmanageable. They eventually pulled to within two at 6-4 before OP ran five straight points to make it 11-4. But the comeback began not long after that.
After OP’s Christina Miscky hit the ball off of one of the overhead speakers, Forest Park ran off four straight points behind the serving of Ashleigh Holt. The Bruins eventually cut the lead to one, after a solid kill by Gross.
Like the first game, the Yellow Jackets reached game point. In game three, Crutchley’s ace pushed the score to 14-10. But the Bruins rallied again a couple of Jacket miscues preceded an ace by the Bruins’ Valerie Ball that made the score 14-13. With the score tied, the Jackets had trouble keeping possession in their own half of the court, giving Forest Park a 15-14 advantage.
Ball, setting up kills for her teammates all evening, closed out the match. On a ball to Forest Park’s end, Ball looked like she was going to do what she had done all night. But instead of passing the ball, Ball dinked it over the net. That threw the Jackets off, and the ball fell to the floor to end the match.
“Physically, I think our game is there … Mentally, we didn’t get it done,” added Southcott. “It shows where I’m weak we’re playing three sophomores and where they’re strong, they’ve got juniors and seniors.”
Despite all that upperclass experience, Bruins coach Dan Jones wasn’t pleased that his team kept having to bounce back from deficits.
“We shouldn’t be down, especially with the way we started off the first. We were up 4-0, and had four attacking errors,” Jones said.
“I’m very concerned with the frequency of [service and passing errors]. Those are two areas that a good volleyball team has to be solid in.”