RISING SUN – It’s the intercounty match many followers circle on their calendar. For years, the Rising Sun Tigers’ volleyball program was a powerhouse, capturing several accolades that hang in their gym. But times are changing, and the energy is shifting to what may be a new era of rivalry volleyball in Cecil County. It felt like a playoff atmosphere Tuesday evening in Rising Sun’s gymnasium. “If we beat them, it’ll be huge” one Tigers player said to another. Indeed, it would be, but the visiting Eagles (7-2) came in and spoiled what could have been a big upset, taking down the Tigers (4-4) 25-18, 25-16, 25-20 to capture their sixth straight win.
While brief, it was a slow start for Bo Manor as Rising Sun jumped out to an early 3-0 lead before Eagles setter Hannah Beck found Rylee Lenz for a kill out of the middle to put their team on the board. Seven lead changes followed when Tigers’ setter Madison Weil located offside hitter Carolyn Dutterer and outside hitter Addison Peirce for kills to put the Tigers up 11-9, throwing off a typically solid Bo Manor block. A few rotations later, the Eagles led by one when an intense series of volleys developed. Tigers’ middle hitter Gracie Herron knocked a kill in to tie the game at fourteen, but Bo Manor came back with a quick set kill from Lenz followed by a kill from Simone Mattucci, forcing Rising Sun to take their first timeout. At that point, Lenz found her groove, securing another kill from the middle to go up three. Down 16-22, Rising Sun was forced to take another timeout in hopes of a resurgence. However, Eagles’ middle Raegan Lenz closed out set one, finding holes in the Tigers’ defense to place the ball, leading to a 25-18 game one win.
Both Raegan and Rylee notched early kills in set two, but Rising Sun made defensive adjustments to slow the sisters down. Dutterer and Peirce helped the Tigers’ offense with back-to-back kills followed by a Dutterer ace to tie the game at ten. However, a hitting error gave Beck the ball to go on a four-point service run, giving the Eagles a 14-10 lead. Rising Sun’s Kendra Watters found empty court on Bo Manor’s side to bring her team within four but a series of hitting errors put set two out of reach for the Tigers, falling two games to none.
Much like the first two sets, there was a lot of back and forth early in game three. With the match on the line, Rising Sun jumped out to a 7-3 lead behind a Mollee Fraker kill. Beck found Raegen Lenz for a kill to tie the game at seven, but Fraker secured another point for the Tigers, giving them an 8-7 lead. A series of unforced errors by Bo Manor put Rising Sun up 14-9 as the Tigers continued to adjust their defense, picking up digs where the Eagles found previous success with over the net tips. “Our passing was great today; we were able to pick up tips and get them to our setters” Fraker noted, “We really hustled.” Game three was within reach for the Tigers before Bo Manor fought back to tie it up at eighteen. Watters tried to keep her team in the contest, tallying two of her five kills to put Rising Sun within reach, but the Eagles no quit mentality forged ahead to take game three and the match.
“I think we came into the game really wanting it” said Mattucci, “We played a solid match and felt confident tonight. We really wanted this win.” Beck agreed, “I think the overall flow was much better than a few of our earlier games.” Beck finished the match with four aces, 19 assists, three digs and two kills while Mattucci closed out the night with three kills. Rylee Lenz tallied a match high ten kills along with two aces, two blocks, and three digs as Raegen Lenz totaled four digs and five kills. For the Tigers, Peirce finished with three aces, one block, and five kills while fellow hitter Fraker registered ten digs and four kills. Furthermore, setter Madison Weil dished out 16 assists along with four digs for her team. “There’s a couple of things we need to clean up, but we pushed hard tonight and showed a lot of hustle,” said Weil. Both Rising Sun and Bo Manor will face division foe Bel Air in the coming days. Each team was able to take a game from the Bobcats earlier in the season before ultimately falling 3-1.