After suffering a 25-19 setback in the opening set of Tuesday's match against visiting Léman Manhattan, Masters' varsity girls volleyball team settled in.
What happened next was akin to a rocket blasting off and escaping Earth's atmosphere.
The Panthers reeled off victories in three straight sets to deal Léman a resounding 3-1 (19-25, 25-11, 25-10, 25-18) defeat.
"In volleyball, it often takes some time to learn how the other team plays and adjust to match their energy," senior Kayla Shelley said. "Once we had the experience of the first set, we were able to play the game smartly and aggressively — ultimately giving us the win."
Masters imposed its will in the second and third sets, outscoring Léman by a combined total of 50-21. The Panthers, anchored by the talented Ashleigh Woodruff ’23, dominated around the net. Woodruff totaled 18 kills and Jenny Xu ’25 added 14 aces and 13 assists. Masters rode the momentum into the fourth and final set, digging deep to put the match on ice.
"The energy we ended the second and third set with drove us to continue and play with everything we had," Shelley said. "We were all so invested and committed."
Masters (3-4), which got off to an 0-3 start to the season, has started to round into form, winning three of its last four matches. The Panthers also recorded wins over Hamden Hall and Harvey.
"During the beginning of the season, we had a bit of trouble being able to play as one team and were instead playing solely as individuals," Dahlia Melnick '22 said. "Throughout this season, we have been able to improve our skills as a team tremendously by playing for each other and trusting each player while on the court."
Shelley echoed Melnick's sentiments, pointing toward an unwavering commitment to the team as the reason for the Panthers' turnaround.
"We spend hours after school each day and oftentimes on weekends, practicing, learning, and improving our skills," she said. "In addition to that, we eat meals together and hang out beyond practice, which has helped with building trust and connection between all of the girls. We are all active players on this team, and when we can gel and play together, we spark a fire that progresses us."
Coach Chanel Flowers is excited to see how the second half of the season unfolds, as a talented Masters squad aims to reach new heights.
"We have a lot of new athletes, and the potential to become a powerhouse was obvious from the moment we came together on the court," Flowers said. "Our driving force is our knowledge. We know the potential we have, the weaknesses we have and, most importantly, we know the dedication and hard work it will take to reach our goals before the season closes out."
The Panthers will aim to keep the fire burning in their next match against Fairchester Athletic Association foe St. Luke's on Saturday, October 16.