Notre Dame Sweeps Boyd-Buchanan In D-II Volleyball

Lady Irish More Aggressive In 3-0 Win Over Lady Bucs Thursday

Thursday, October 5, 2017 - by John Hunt

This is the first year for a new district in Division II volleyball, but Boyd-Buchanan and Notre Dame have already formed a really intense rivalry in the last two months.

Boyd-Buchanan beat Notre Dame in the Hixson Invitational the first weekend of the season and they each won at home during the regular season.

The second-seeded Lady Irish evened the score at 2-2 with Thursday night’s 3-0 sweep over the top-seeded Lady Bucs in the championship match of the D-II District 2-A tournament at Boyd-Buchanan’s Jett Gymnasium.

The Lady Irish improved to 29-16 with the 25-20, 26-24, 25-21 victory, but the competition was great, the spirit on both sides was outstanding and for all practical purposes, it was an ever closer match than the final scores might indicate.

The biggest difference was the second-seeded Lady Irish were just a bit more hungry for the tournament title than the top-seeded Lady Bucs.

“I thought we served really well and that allowed us to run our offense for longer stretches and that was one of the biggest keys for us tonight,” said Notre Dame coach Dan Clotfelter after the tournament awards had been distributed.

“That’s the best match Sarah Desai has played all season as she made good decisions of who to give the ball to.  That made it tough for Boyd-Buchanan’s blockers.  There are a lot of good teams in this district, but we’ve made huge improvements in the past couple of weeks.  I just didn’t know when we’d see the results.

“But we somehow found a way to win and that aggressive serving was really important,” he added.

Boyd-Buchanan coach Nancy Culver pointed to Notre Dame’s serving as a breaking point for her girls, now 29-10 for the season.

“They really served well and did a good job of picking on our weak spots.  We just didn’t respond like I had hoped, but they attacked and we backed down.  It’s obvious that we didn’t play our best match tonight,” she expressed later.

“We were ahead in both the second and third sets, but we were playing more afraid to lose than playing to win.  You can’t do that in a tough match like this one, but Notre Dame had a good game plan and they did an excellent job of executing it.

“We played one of our best matches against Silverdale here on Tuesday and I’m really surprised we didn’t play better tonight.  I’m not sure we were in the right mindset, but this just makes our job a little tougher,” she said, knowing her team will host the third-place finish from the other district on Saturday.

The Lady Irish got five straight service points from tournament MVP Ally Mildenberger to extend a 4-3 lead to 9-3 in the first set.  A block from Meredith Balthrop a little later allowed the Lady Bucs to take the lead at 13-12.

It was close the rest of the way with four ties. 

An ace from Julia Headrick allowed the Lady Bucs to get within 20-19, but Claire Vander Werf had a couple of kills before Kyla Mitchell closed the first set with an ace for the Lady Irish.

The second set was the best of the match as Notre Dame’s biggest lead was four points at 6-2 while Boyd-Buchanan’s biggest advantage was five points at 20-15 following five straight service points from Jordan Furtney.

There were also 10 ties in that second set.

The Lady Irish never panicked when they were down and slowly cut into Boyd’s lead, knotting the score at 23-23 on an ace by Jazzmyne Watkins.  A kill from Vander Werf a minute later allowed the Lady Irish to tie it again at 24 before a hitting error by the Lady Bucs and a kill from Mackenzie Johnson gave the visitors the 2-0 lead.

There were 11 ties in the final set, the last at 20-20.  Four hitting errors at the end allowed Notre Dame to win the match by scoring five of the final six points.

Watkins and Johnson both had seven kills to lead the Notre Dame attack while Mitchell and Vander Werf both had six each.  Desai had 31 assists and three aces while Mildenberger had 16 digs and five aces.

Mann had nine kills and 4.5 blocks to lead the Lady Bucs while Furtney finished with eight digs, seven assists and three aces.  Balthrop had 11 digs and nine assists while Taylor had nine digs and three aces.

Chattanooga Christian rallied from a 2-1 deficit to defeat Silverdale 3-2 in the consolation match, the Lady Chargers winning by scores of 25-20, 18-25, 19-25, 25-14 and 15-9.


Sarah Desai – 31 assists, 1 kill, 1 dig, 3 aces

McKenna Brown – 7 digs, 2 aces

Ally Mildenberger – 2 kills, 16 digs, 5 aces

Moiya Thomas – 3 kills

Kyla Mitchell – 6 kills, 2 blocks

Claire Vander Werf – 6 kills, 13 digs, 2 aces

Jazzmyne Watkins – 7 kills, 3 digs, 1 ace

Mackenzie Johnson – 7 kills, 3 blocks.


Meredith Balthrop – 11 digs, 4 kills, 9 assists

Julia Headrick – 4 digs, 5 kills, 1 assist, 2 aces

Jordan Furtney – 8 digs, 1 kill, 7 assists, 3 aces

Maddie Millwood – 9 digs, 2 kills, 3 assists, 1 ace, 1.5 blocks

Abigail Taylor – 4 digs, 2 kills, 1 assist

Gracie Spencer – 2 digs

Mackenzie Mann – 2 digs, 9 kills, 1 assist, 4.5 blocks

Skylar Linville – 1 kill, 2 blocks

Madison Taylor – 9 digs, 1 assist, 3 aces.

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM: Savannah Gann (Silverdale); A.J. Johnson (Chattanooga Christian); Madison Taylor, Mackenzie Mann (Boyd-Buchanan); Claire Vander Werf, Kyla Mitchell, MVP Ally Mildenberger (Notre Dame).

REGULAR SEASON ALL-DISTRICT: Katie Patrick (Silverdale); Autumn Parrott, Maggie Long (Grace); Ally Mildenberger, Mackenzie Johnson, Claire Vander Werf (Notre Dame); Rachel Kay, A.J. Johnson, Brieana Hemphill (Chattanooga Christian); Julia Headrick, Maddie Millwood, Meredith Balthrop (Boyd-Buchanan); Player of the Year: Mackenzie Mann (Boyd-Buchanan); Coach of the Year: Nancy Culver (Boyd-Buchanan).

(Email John Hunt at

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