Poly loses this game of catch-up

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Poly Prep has been playing from behind all season. Much to coach Vanessa Ruck’s chagrin, that has been the team’s calling card.

In most cases, though, the Blue Devils are able to stage a stirring comeback against teams that didn’t have as much talent as them. But that wasn’t the case in a 25-15, 25-21 loss to Horace Mann in Ivy League girls volleyball in Bay Ridge.

“We can’t play catch up against a good team like that,” Ruck said.

Poly (7-3) had a chance to share the Ivy title with the Mann (9-1) if it pulled out the victory. That became harder when the Blue Devils fell behind, 10-3, in the first set. They came back to make it a set, but they weren’t able to complete the comeback like they had so many times before.

“Coach tells us time and time again to take it early and get all the points in the beginning,” sophomore setter Jacquie Chirdo said. “Somehow, we have a problem with that, but we usually comeback. But with Horace Mann, when you have a team that good, it’s really hard.”

The second set was tighter throughout. Senior middle hitter Lily Donahue, at 6-foot-4 the tallest player in the league by far, was on, finishing with eight kills and three blocks. But Poly’s passing broke down and the set slipped away with Horace Mann’s Zoe Kestan had back-to-back service aces to make it 18-14. Donahue would cut the lead to 23-20, but two Blue Devils errors closed it out.

“We made more mistakes than them,” Ruck said.

Poly won’t win the Ivy League crown this year, but the season is hardly over. Next week starts the NYSAISAA tournament and the Blue Devils are still hoping to put together a run at the state title. Ruck said she expects somewhere around a No. 5 seed, but Horace Mann coach Jason Torres thinks Poly could get as high as No. 2.

“I think we have immense talent,” Chirdo said. “For a team that doesn’t play club or anything, we really came through. I’m not that unhappy with second, to be completely honest.”

Updated 2:38 pm, October 19, 2011
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