Notre Dame Gets Revenge With Boyd-Buchanan

Lady Irish Win Key Region Clash Behind Watkins, Desai & Mildenberger

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - by John Hunt
Notre Dame's Kyra Mitchell (8) skirmishes at the net with Boyd-Buchanan's Skylar Linville (20) during the Lady Irish's match with the Lady Bucs Tuesday evening. Notre Dame defeated Boyd-Buc 3-1 (23-25; 25-18; 17-25; 21-25).
Notre Dame's Kyra Mitchell (8) skirmishes at the net with Boyd-Buchanan's Skylar Linville (20) during the Lady Irish's match with the Lady Bucs Tuesday evening. Notre Dame defeated Boyd-Buc 3-1 (23-25; 25-18; 17-25; 21-25).
- photo by Dennis Norwood

The Notre Dame volleyball team may have felt they let one get away in the championship match of the Hixson Invitational Saturday afternoon against the Boyd-Buchanan Lady Buccaneers, but they were bound to not let it happen again.

At least, not during a home match against these same Lady Bucs Tuesday evening in the rowdy confines of their Jack Steiner Sr. Gymnasium.

The Lady Irish improved to 6-2 overall and 1-0 in Division II 2-A with the four set win.

Notre Dame won a really close first set by a 25-23 final before the Lady Bucs evened the score with a 25-18 victory in the second set.  Refusing to be denied in front of their home crowd, Notre Dame then sealed the deal with wins of 25-17 and 25-21 in the final two sets.

“I’ve coached a lot of high school volleyball matches in my career, but this is one of the best I’ve ever seen,” said Notre Dame’s Dan Clotfelter after the almost-two hour match finally ended.

“Nobody could get the upper hand in that first set as both teams were really playing at a high level.  Serve receive was something that hurt us in our match with them on Saturday, but we had a little extra time to work on it yesterday.  It was a huge part of our win today,” the first-year Lady Irish leader continued.

“Claire Vander Werf is one of our seniors and a great vocal leader and she was certain that we were going to win this match.  I’m not sure I had as much confidence, but I felt like we did a good job of controlling our emotions and that was important, especially in that final set when they came back and tied it late.

“We gave ourselves a chance today.  This match just shows us how good we can be, but it’s good to face an outstanding team like Boyd-Buchanan early as this will only make us better,” he added.

Boyd-Buchanan coach Nancy Culver didn’t waste any time pinpointing the key issue for her girls, who suffered their first loss of the season after nine straight wins.

“We just weren’t ready to play,” she began her post-match comments.

“Notre Dame came out ready and we didn’t, but we have to be ready at the start when we’re facing a good team like Notre Dame.  They had a good game plan and they executed it, but we just weren’t mentally ready to compete today.

“I’ve always said that we can learn more from a loss than a win, but we lost the war today because we lost all the little battles.  It’s always hard to play in this gym as they have a huge home-court advantage, but we’ll just have to bounce back and be ready for our match with Grace on Thursday,” she nodded.

The first set was by far the most competitive as the score was tied 15 times – the last time at 20-20 -- as neither team could gain an advantage. 

A kill from Jazzmyne Watkins gave Notre Dame a 24-22 lead before the Lady Bucs then closed to 24-23 on a Notre Dame hitting error.  The Lady Irish then clinched the first set when a Lady Buc serve sailed wide.

The second set was equally competitive, but not quite as close, as the Lady Bucs broke from an 11-11 tie to score four of the next five points.  Notre Dame got within a point a minute or so later, but the Lady Bucs had the upper hand and refused to get the Lady Irish get any closer.

Notre Dame then scored the first three points of the third set and trailed only twice in the early going.  Three straight kills from Watkins allowed Notre Dame to take an 8-5 lead and the Lady Bucs never had the advantage again as a hitting error from the visitors allowed the Lady Irish to take a 2-1 lead.

There were moments in that fourth set when the Lady  Bucs looked like they might rally, but Notre Dame had an answer every time.  A service error by Boyd-Buchanan allowed Notre Dame to knot the score for the last time at 17-17.

Three straight service points from Ally Mildenberger, including another kill from Watkins, gave Notre Dame a 20-17 lead and you could sense that the home team was feeling more and more confident. 

A kill from Alex Peters gave Notre Dame a commanding 23-21 lead while a pair of hitting errors at the end doomed the Lady Bucs.

The sophomore Watkins had 19 kills and 19 digs to lead the Notre Dame effort while Sarah Desai had 38 assists to go along with eight digs and four kills.  Mildenberger finished with 38 assists while Vander Werf chipped in with 16 digs and 13 kills.  Mackenzie Johnson also had 11 kills for the winners.

Maddie Millwood had 17 digs and 13 kills to lead Boyd-Buchanan while Meredith Balthrop had 16 assists and 14 digs.  Jordan Furtney had 14 assists while Madison Taylor had a dozen digs and Mackenzie Mann 9.5 blocks.

Both teams will be in action Thursday with Notre Dame traveling to Hixson.  Boyd-Buchanan will be at home to host Grace.

BOYD-BUCHANAN STATS:

Meredith Balthrop – 14 digs, 7 kills, 16 assists, .5 block

Julia Headrick – 4 digs, 7 kills, 1 block, 1 ace

Jordan Furtney – 8 digs, 14 assists, 2 aces

Katie Culver – 4 digs, 2 aces

Maddie Millwood – 17 digs, 13 kills, 1 ace

Abigail Taylor – 4 digs, 1 kill

Gracie Spencer – 7 digs

Zoe Pryor – 1 dig

Mackenzie Mann – 2 digs, 4 kills, 9.5 blocks

Skylar Linville – 1 kill, 1 block

Madison Taylor – 12 digs, 1 assist.

NOTRE DAME STATS:

Sarah Desai – 4 kills, 38 assists, 8 digs, 2 aces

Ally Mildenberger – 38 digs, 1 assist

Claire Vander Werf – 13 kills, 16 digs, 2 aces

Maggie Martin – 4 aces

Jazzmyne Watkins – 19 kills, 19 digs, 1 assist

Mackenzie Johnson – 11 kills, 1 assist, 1 dig.

(email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@gmail.com)

Boyd-Buchanan's Maddie Millwood slaps the ball over the net during the Lady Bucs' match Tuesday evening against Notre Dame. The Irish won by a 3-1 score.
Boyd-Buchanan's Maddie Millwood slaps the ball over the net during the Lady Bucs' match Tuesday evening against Notre Dame. The Irish won by a 3-1 score.
- Photo2 by Dennis Norwood


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