Kellam girls volleyball assistant coach Chuck Lewis shook his head and stared high as he started to discuss the first set in Wednesday’s 6A South region semifinals match against Colonial Forge.
The Knights came out stunned and lackadaisical, falling 25-12 in the first set.
Playing a team they hadn’t seen all year, it was the first time all postseason Kellam looked shaken.
Lewis joked that he couldn’t find the Knights on the floor, so he went searching.
“We lost, then I went in to the locker room and got the Kellam volleyball team,” Lewis said, smirking.
The Knights shook off their early struggles and bounced back to win the following three sets (12-25, 25-13, 27-25, 25-23) en route to clinching a state tournament berth.
Kellam showed its true character in the game’s final two sets, which turned out to be two of the toughest frames the Knights have played all postseason.
Colonial Forge held match point in the third set up 25-24, before Maddy Trypuc led the Knights on a 3-0 run to close the set. The fourth set was a back-and-forth game of runs. Kellam took a 17-10 lead before Colonial Forge stormed to go ahead 23-22. The Knights rallied for the final three points again, staving off a pesky Eagles group that refused to go away.
“We pulled it together and knew we can win no matter the circumstances,” Knights setter Lauren Baumgardner said. “We definitely kept our heads focused. It says a lot about the team. We can always take what’s given and do something great.”
“This was huge,” Lewis added. “Facing a good team and being able to dig out and put together a win. We’ve played better matches, but the girls did what they had to do to make it happen.”
In her first full game back from an ankle injury, Katie Piper led all Knights hitters with 13 kills. Trypuc added 11 kills and four blocks. Baumgardner dished out 40 assists, while libero Savannah Marshall posted 24 digs.
Following Wednesday’s victory, an ecstatic Trypuc clenched her fists in relief of escaping the team’s most stressful game of the season.
Next up, Kellam hosts First Colonial in the region finals at 6 p.m. Friday. The Knights dealt the Patriots a 3-0 loss in the Coastal Conference finals last week.
“We live for another game,” Trypuc said. “We have to take it point by point.”