That was the case for North Attleboro, suffering a 3-2 non-league setback to King Philip last week.
Now Stoughton is hoping the same will come true for them after dropping a 3-2 decision to the visiting Rocketeers on Monday night.
Stoughton took the first game, and then went up 2-1, but North Attleboro responded each time and came away with a 21-25, 25-15, 16-25, 25-23, 15-6 win.
North Attleboro head coach Jeff Crins believes his team’s ability to bounce back is a direct correlation from having been in the same scenario less than a week ago.
“I think having played that game five [against KP] kind of gave them the confidence to go out there and play our game,” Crins said. “When we play our game, when we run our offense, it’s tough to stay with us. The kids just needed to hear it and see it, and it worked out in our favor tonight. Our offense was running on all cylinders in the fifth game.”
For Stoughton head coach Erica Batchelder, she’s hoping her squad – who hadn’t lost more than one set all season – will use this as a lesson.
“I think we can take this loss and learn from it,” Batchelder said. “We haven’t been down yet this season, we had only lost one set coming into today. I think this will definitely help us. The kids weren’t used to be down yet, but now we can learn from this.”
The Black Knights got off to a strong start in the first game. North Attleboro’s Kezia De La Cruz (13 kills, two aces) opened the match with back-to-back kills, but Stoughton then rattled off a 10-1 run to seize a 10-3 lead.
Stoughton kept its offense up, building a 19-8 lead behind a kill from Molly Turner (16 assists, seven kills, five aces) and it looked like the Black Knights would cruise to an opening game win.
But North Attleboro got into a groove behind strong serving from Leah Marceau. A block kill from Anna Caristi capped an 11-4 run for the visitors to cut the deficit at four, 23-19. But Turner was able to finish off a kill to give Stoughton a 25-21 win.
While North Attleboro didn’t come away with the win in the first game, the momentum captured in the comeback attempt carried over into the second game.
“I think it was huge to get back in it,” Crins said. “If we ended that game under double-digits, or losing by double-digits then the next game would have been a completely different outcome. I think we got some confidence. We kind of beat ourselves for the first 20 points so we just needed to play our game. Stoughton played great, they didn’t let anything drop but we just had to go the distance a little bit.”
The Rocketeers were able to keep that 10-point cushion the rest of the way, getting kills from Melanson, De La Cruz, Caristi and Katie DeMontigny to take a 25-15 win.
The third game was much tighter throughout. North Attleboro’s Amelia Murphy (18 kills, two aces) cut the Stoughton lead to just two at 15-13. But a quick 4-0 burst, including an ace from sophomore Makiah Simpson – suddenly put the Black Knights up 19-13.
Big Red called a timeout when Stoughton’s lead went to 22-16, but the break didn’t phase the Black Knights, getting the final three points via kills from Val Whalen (12 kills, four blocks), Hanna Holden (11 assists, four kills) and an ace from Turner.
The fourth game started out similar to the first as Stoughton raced out to a 10-3 lead, punctuated by an ace from Taylor Levine. But North Attleboro rallied for a 7-0 run to tie the game. Tied 16-16, Big Red then hit a 5-1 stride to take a 21-17 lead and force a timeout from the Knights. Stoughton rallied to cut the deficit to one (22-21), forcing Crins to take a timeout.
A kill from Whalen brought Stoughton within one (24-23) but an error allowed North Attleboro to take the win and force a fifth set.
“I think when we got them out of their system, we were at an advantage,” Crins said. “They still did a nice job to keep the ball in play and put pressure on us. I have to give it to my setter [Leah Marceau] she played a phenomenal game. She really did a great job keeping the pieces together and feeding the hot hand when we needed to.”
That’s when experience showed. North quickly turned a tie game (3-3) into a 9-4 lead behind a big kill from Murphy, forcing a timeout. Murphy registered another kill on the next play, added two more to extend North’s lead to 13-5. With game point on the line, Marceau set Murphy up and she slammed down her 18th kill for the win.
“That was our motivation, to get into first place,” Crins said. “If we lost, we would have had to play catch up the rest of the season. But if we controlled the match, then we control our destiny. We see them again so we know it will be just as tough but for now, we control our destiny.”
North Attleboro (7-1 overall, 6-0 Hockomock) returns home on Thursday to host Milford. Stoughton (7-1, 5-1) hosts Sharon on Wednesday evening.
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