Chelsea overcomes raucous Homewood crowd to beat Patriots

Published 9:28 am Thursday, August 31, 2023

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

HOMEWOOD – The Homewood Patriots’ gym was filled to the brim with students and fans for a special in-school match, but it was the Chelsea Hornets who showed up and made a strong statement with a 3-1 match win.

While Homewood opened the first set on a 4-1 run, Chelsea fought back and tied the set at seven. They took the lead off a well-placed swing and an ace, and they went on a run to go up 13-8.

The rest of the set was back-and-forth like the first half, as the Patriots cut the lead to 16-14, but Chelsea pulled away again and led 20-15 into a Homewood timeout.

The Patriots then went on a 5-1 run that drew them within a point of a tie, but after Chelsea called their own timeout, the Hornets finished off the set with four straight points to win the first set, 25-20.

From there, Chelsea took control and turned their 4-2 lead that they opened the second set with into an 8-2 lead from a brief run which forced Homewood to regroup.

Homewood drew closer to cut the lead to four before they went on a run to take a 17-15 lead. Chelsea kept the set close, and when they faced a 20-17 deficit, they took advantage of two service errors in three attempts and followed it with an ace to cut the lead to just one.

Facing pressure from the Homewood students after Chelsea tied the set at 23, the Hornets took the next two points to win the second set, 25-23, and establish a commanding two-set lead.

The Hornets used that momentum to jump out to a 7-1 lead in the third set and looked ready to cruise to a sweep. However, Homewood had other plans and rallied back with a 6-2 run to cut the lead to 9-7.

Homewood tied up the set at 13 and took the lead shortly after, but their lead was short lived as Chelsea took a 17-16 lead.

From there, the teams traded blows, and the Patriots flipped a 19-18 Chelsea lead into a 21-19 lead of their own thanks to three straight points.

Those three straight points became nine as Homewood ended the third set strong despite Chelsea showing fight in the points they lost down the stretch.

The Patriots won the third set, 25-21, but Chelsea responded in the fourth with an early 4-1 lead. Then, just like in the last two sets, Homewood battled back and took an 11-10 lead off a missed block by Chelsea.

The Hornets would call timeout a point later to regroup, and they answered Homewood out of the timeout by going up 16-14, which was a lead that they would not relinquish even though Homewood kept the set close.

Chelsea pulled away and held off Homewood with wins in two of the final three points to take the fourth set, 25-20, and the match, 3-1.

Lauren Buchanan led the Hornets in kills with 22, followed by Alexis Rudolph and Haley Trotter with eight each. Cara Belcher had 22 assists to lead the team in that category, and MK Dojonovic also had 15 assists.

Chelsea had a phenomenal day from the service line as Rudolph took home nine aces and Belcher added six aces of her own.

Over on defense, Sophia Bagley recorded 19 digs and Buchanan racked up 16. Kaleigh Hall had three total blocks to lead the Hornets.

Chelsea will return to action on Thursday, Aug. 31 to take on Briarwood in another road game to close the week.