Welcoming one team member (Clementina Davila '14) back to the lineup after an extended absence but losing another (Allie Brazo '14) to illness, the Bears visited familiar foes Canterbury on a bitter cold New England afternoon. A solid performance from top to bottom enabled the road warriors to nudge their head-to-head record back into positive territory (4 wins versus 3 losses). Coach Amy Omana's plucky Saints fought hard up and down the ladder, pushing many games to extra points and making Berkshire work much harder than the 6-1 margin might suggest.
Play began with the evens. #8 Chelsea Leeds survived an epic second game (16-14 to the hungry Bear) to claim a satisfying three-game victory. #6 Olivia Silverman, working to diversify her serving technique and improve her movement patterns, won her first two comfortably and then had to dig deep to snatch the final frame 15-13. #4 Edeline Loh, facing an athletic southpaw who was quick to jump on any loose balls, worked hard but came up on the short end of 3-0 loss. #2 Michaelann Denton, while ahead in all of her games, had to overcome a very sluggish start to escape with a straight-set victory.
As the odds came on, Berkshire needed two more victories to secure the match. As it turned out, the girls claimed all four, although things were touch and go for a while. #5 Clementina Davila, showing some obvious jitters after her long layoff, dropped her first game but roared back to grab the next three, including a tough 12-10 finish in the finale. #3 Chase Gerber, one of the co-captains, had the same score in her initial game but increased her aggressiveness and improved her length to ease through the next two. #7 Serena Menges, who continues to show great improvement in terms of her movement and decision making, posted a convincing win in straight games.
This left only #1 Maisie Noesen, the other co-captain, to close things out. Alanis Perez, Canterbury's wily left-hander, had other ideas. Perez stunned Noesen in the first game, surrendering only three points. Noesen gathered herself in the next frame and evened things, after which the two combatants split the third and fourth games. With the other matches completed, the girls played the fifth before their enthusiastic teammates, and Noesen's aggressive ball striking and relentless retrieval were enough to garner her the win. Both players showed tremendous sportsmanship throughout the match, with Perez calling several of her own balls out and Noesen taking a moment to check in on her opponent after a particularly torturous rally.
Coach Kohlhepp, who was surprised to learn of the presence of a Starbuck's in New Milford (Serena heard it from Siri and shared this news with the squad), consented to stop both there and at Dunkin Donuts on the way home and still found a way to get the girls to the dining hall before the waffle batter ran out. "We have been emphasizing positioning this week," he noted. "Get in front and take the ball in short. I think the girls did pretty well with that today."
Asked about the Cub, who may have grown a bit too comfortable in Serena Menges' care, Kohlhepp didn't have to think long. Citing her fighting spirit on an off day, he awarded it to four-year varsity squasher and advisee Maisie Noesen. Coach and co-captain and the rest of the team look forward to their second home match of the season this Saturday, when they will host Kent.