The Notre Dame Lady Fighting Irish volleyball team breezed through its regular season schedule with hardly a challenge as they won all nine matches in convincing fashion.
That domination has continued this past weekend with play in the Division II East Region District 2-A tournament.
They swept Boyd-Buchanan in a semifinal match on Saturday before doing the same to the Grace Academy Lady Golden Eagles at Grace on Monday night.
It was the third time for the Lady Irish to beat those two teams and they did so in convincing fashion.
Monday’s scores were 25-12, 26-24 and 25-14. Second-seeded Silverdale, who lost to third-seeded Grace on Saturday, won the consolation match on Monday with a 3-1 victory over Boyd-Buchanan, the Lady Seahawks winning by scores of 25-17, 22-25, 25-22 and 25-12.
Notre Dame and Grace will be back at home on Thursday to host region semifinal matches while Silverdale and Boyd-Buchanan will be headed to Knoxville for their next matches.
Notre Dame improved to 30-9 with its latest victory and coach Dan Clotfelter was more than pleased to claim another tournament title.
“I’m really proud of the way my girls played. We all know how tough it is to beat the same team three times in the same season, but we’ve done it twice in the last three days,” he said while Notre Dame parents, players and other fans mingled around the Notre Dame bench to continue their post-match celebration.
“Grace has gotten so much better since we played them the first time and to be able to beat them here in their gym is really special. I feel like we’ve just gotten better and better as the season has continued and playing tough teams in out-of-town tournaments has really helped.
“Jazz (Watkins) got us started in the first set with two of her six aces, but I felt like we served well all match and forced Grace to play from behind. We got a lot of help from our middle hitters and that really helped us tonight as well,” Clotfelter added.
Grace coach Laurie McGinley isn’t a big fan of losing to anyone, but she had nothing but good things to say about her own team as well as the Lady Irish.
“It’s sad to have a loss in a championship match, but Notre Dame is a worthy opponent who has gone from good to great this fall,” she began.
“I think we were focused when the match began, but we had a hard time knowing who to focus on as they have so many great players. They serve receive so well and their passing was lights out, which made it difficult for us to run our offense.
“I just had to remind our girls that it’s possible to finish second in the district and still win the state. I have no idea what our record is as we’ve played some really good teams, but our goal is to focus on the future and we’ll move on to our next match,” the smiling coach concluded.
With Watkins getting those aces and adding two more service points, Notre Dame raced to a 7-2 lead in the first set and never slowed down as Grace didn’t get any closer than four points for the remainder fo the set. A block by Lindsay Burns gave the Lady Irish the early lead.
The second set was by far the best of the match.
Grace had leads of 6-5 and 8-7 before five straight service points from Abby McGaughey allowed the Lady Eagles to turn a 16-14 deficit into a 19-16 lead.
Back-to-back blocks from Beth Voges allowed Notre Dame to knot the score at 20-20 and their were four more ties before Regan Wolf gave the Lady Irish its final lead at 25-24. A hitting error by the Lady Eagles allowed Notre Dame to take full control with the second set as well.
Watkins recorded two more aces at the start of the final set as Notre Dame bolted to a 6-2 lead. A kill by Holly Fulgham got Grace within 16-11 before the winners slowly pulled away for the win.
Wolf was named the tournament MVP after recording 11 kills in Monday’s match and was joined by Watkins and McKenna Brown on the all-tournament team.
Watkins finished with seven kills, 13 digs and six aces while Brown had 13 kills and 11 digs. Gwen Jimenez had 18 digs for the winners while Mary Fillauer was credited with 38 assists.
Megan Long and McGaughey were both all-tournament selections for Grace.
Long had four kills, eight digs and an ace while McGaughey had two kills, 16 digs and two aces. Miriam Ateca had 18 assists and 16 digs for Grace while Victoria Betrous had 15 digs.
NOTRE DAME STATS:
McKenna Brown – 13 kills, 11 digs
Riley McCormick – 11 digs
Regan Wolf – 11 kills
Gwen Jimenez – 1 kill, 18 digs, 1 assist
Beth Voges – 3 kills, 3.5 blocks, 2 digs
Emmeline Crisp – 1 block
Lindsay Burns – 3 kills, 1 dig, 3 aces, 1 block
Mary Fillauer – 1 kill, .5 block, 38 assists, 4 digs
Caroline Williams – 1 ace, 1 dig
Jazzmine Watkins – 7 kills, 13 digs, 6 aces
Sara Willingham – 1 ace, 4 digs.
Meg Long – 4 kills, 8 digs, 1 ace
Victoria Betrous – 15 digs
Holly Fulgham – 4 kills, 1 block, 5 digs
Emma Poppert – 2 kills, 2 blocks, 1 dig
Miriam Ateca – 18 assists, 16 digs, 1 ace
Lainey Barrow – 6 kills, 5 digs, 1 block
Abby McGaughey – 2 kills, 16 digs, 2 aces.
ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM: Katie Finn Hurst, Madison King (St. Andrews-Sewanee); Cali Sandhoff, Calla Brady (Boyd-Buchanan); Bailee Killingsworth, Ashlee Kugler (Silverdale); Meg Long, Abby McGaughey (Grace); Jazz Watkins, McKenna Brown and MVP Regan Wolf (Notre Dame).
ALL-DISTRICT TEAM: Jordan McClain (Collegedale Academy); Julia Hedrick (Boyd-Buchanan); Emma Poppert, Victoria Betrous, Holly Fulgham (Grace); Kenzie Manning, Savannah Williams, (Silverdale); Regan Wolf, Gwen Jimenez, Mary Fillauer, Jazz Watkins and MVP McKenna Brown (Notre Dame); Coach of the Year – Dan Clotfelter (Notre Dame).
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)(