The Cardinals (4-1) beat the Jets (4-3), 3-1, (25-19, 25-20, 25-15) in what turned out to be a thriller in the Madison Park gymnasium. Ultimately the match came down to the consistency of the Cardinals' relentless spikes, led by sophomore hitter Antonea Green.
“We got our game together today,” she said. “We knew we could win, so when we worked together as a team we aced it.”
Both teams came out equally prepared for the first set. There were ties at 4-4, and then again at 8-8. Led by sophomore Ava Salvi, the Jets were able to hang close with the Cardinals, but Madison Park scored five straight points to capture the first, 25-19.
The second set was just as close. The Jets applied pressure and sustained long volleys, but key aces by senior captain Rebecca Mondesir kept the Jets at bay and propelled her Cardinals to win 25-20.
Down 2-0 and facing a sweep, the Jets looked tired. And when the Cardinals jumped out to an 8-1 lead in the third, a sweep for Madison Park looked definite.
But following a timeout and pep talk from coach Vanessa Bigby, the Jets were revitalized.
After hanging tough, seven unanswered points gave the Jets a 20-19 lead, and with the match tied at 22-22, the Jets roared back to take that crucial third set and avoid being swept, 25-23.
“I think they came out with that fire in the third set,” Bigby said. “They wanted that set. But we need to work on our spikes and receiving spikes.”
After seeing some light in the third set, the Jets were then unable to keep up with a motivated Cardinals squad in the final set. Green led a seven-point surge for the Cardinals early, and senior hitter Katherine Lara capped off the victory with a seven-point run of her own.
Madison Park coach Gladys Byrd was happy with her team’s ability to weather the East Boston comeback, but reminded her players they still need to improve.
“We were distracted a little,” she said. “In that third set we missed too many serves, so we needed to get back to our game. And that’s when we started to hit our set-ups, and continued to spike it over.”
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- Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
- Ryan Butler -- A Rhode Island native and avid Boston sports fan, Butler played basketball, baseball and football throughout his time in Barrington Public Schools. Now currently in his middler year at Northeastern University, he joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.