The varsity volleyball team jumped out to an early lead before needing to mount a desperate comeback in the final set to defeat visiting Greenwich Academy 3-2 on Oct. 5.
Playing before a raucous crowd in the field house with boisterous rooting sections from both sides, the Bearcats (5-3) won the first two sets before the Gators mounted a furious comeback to square the match and set up an epic fifth set, in which Hotchkiss finally prevailed by a combined score of 25-19, 26-24, 21-25, 23-25, 16-14.
The fifth set alone provided a full match’s worth of drama, as the Bearcats went down early into an 8-5 hole before rallying to tie the match at 11-11. Hotchkiss scored the next three points to take a 14-11 lead and triple match point, but GA battled back to even the set at 14-14. A kill by co-captain Harper Pertchik ’20 and another winner by Hotchkiss sent the team into a frenzied celebration after nearly two hours of volleyball.
“It was so exciting to see the team come together under difficult circumstances and against such a talented Greenwich team,” said head coach Eileen Sullivan. “Despite missing four players, the team played with enthusiasm and with some of the best communication I've seen from them all season. I couldn't be prouder of all them.”
Pertchik led the way again for Hotchkiss with 21 kills and a hitting percentage of 0.500. She was one of three Hotchkiss players (along with fellow captain Maggie Ottenbreit ’20 and outside hitter Piper Willinger ‘22, who recorded 13 kills) to play every one of the 218 points in the match.
Libero Victoria Fertig ’22 and defensive specialist Atalia Navarro ’21 provided steady play in the back row, with the two combining for 39 serves and four aces on the day.
After the first set, which Hotchkiss won relatively comfortably, 25-19, the remaining four sets resolved into a taut battle where neither team seemed to be able to gain control of the play. In the third and fourth sets especially, Hotchkiss jumped out to small early leads, only to see GA rally to tie and then take their own leads, which they were able to hold to win the sets.
From the beginning of the third set, where Hotchkiss held an early 12-7 lead, the scores of the two teams would never be separated by more than four points. In the fourth set, the margin was even closer, with neither team leading by more than two points throughout.