(written, shot and edited for Somerville Patch)
Steve Walker and the Somerville High School boys’ volleyball team were charged with a tough task Friday afternoon: shut down Winchester High School’s dynamic middle-hitting duo of Garrett and Charles Dagle.
It was a tall order (literally), and the short-handed Highlanders came up … well … short.
The Winchester Sachems swept the Somerville Highlanders, 25-14, 25-21, 25-19. The Highlanders were without three of their starting six due to “Senior Skip Day” at Somerville High.
Winchester controlled the pace of the first two games, but the Highlanders were in control early in the third and looked like they might be getting back into the match.
Senior middle hitter Ronnie Mosley (the only senior at the game) opened the game with a kill, and Somerville and Winchester split the first four points.
The Sachems went up 4-2, but the Highlanders responders with a 6-0 run.
Sophomore Victor Schmoeller’s first serve ate up Winchester’s defense and sailed backwards out of bounds. Schmoeller tagged the net with his second serve, but it ricocheted over and bounced on the far sideline for his two aces in a row.
Lucas Schmoeller (Victor’s brother, also a sophomore) dropped a shot near Winchester’s far sideline, then hit another directly into the Winchester block that fell on Winchester’s side.
Winchester called timeout down 8-4, and unfortunately the Highlanders’ control faded in the minute before play resumed. Winchester took control of the match with a 10-2 run, going up 9-8 on a Charles Dagle kill in the middle of the court.
Though Garrett Dagle, the senior captain, was more dominant in the first two games, it was Charles who took over the third. With Winchester up just 17-14, Charles hit an unplayable spike to the center of Somerville’s court. Two plays later, Charles timed his block perfectly to stuff Lucas Schmoeller’s hit back in Schmoeller’s face. Schmoeller desperately tried to play the ball with his fist, but it bounced weakly out of bounds for the 20-14 Winchester lead.
The Highlanders used a series of Sachem mistakes to go on a 5-0 run late in the game, but down 19-21, Victor Schmoeller’s serve went out of bounds.
Winchester closed the game out without surrendering the serve. The Dagles finished the game with 18 combined kills: 11 by Charles, seven by Garrett. Sachems setter and captain Don Muir finished with 14 assists.
When Somerville’s Mosley played front and center, the Highlanders had some success containing the Dagles, usually extending volleys and forcing the Sachems into weaker hits. When the 6-foot-1 middle hitter rotated into the back row and was replaced up front by 5-foot-7 junior Friguens Augustin, the Dagles swung more freely.
The Sachems also took advantage of communication errors and missed execution by the Highlander back row. In the second game, Winchester scored only five points on direct kills. The other 20 resulted from Somerville hits into the net or out of bounds, two players not establishing a passer and running into each other, or overpasses that gave the Sachems easy hitting opportunities.
Despite the errors, coach Walker said this was the best game he’d seen from his players all season. He said he liked their mobility and especially their attitude given the missing members of their team. He added that communication could still be improved.