The Notre Dame volleyball team was down, but never out as they played a key district match on the road at Boyd Buchanan Thursday evening.
The Lady Irish have a veteran team that rarely loses its cool.
The Lady Bucs came out smoking and played really well as they won the first set by a 25-21 final.
An ace by Cali Sandhoff put the home team at set point in the second with a 24-23 lead, but the Lady Irish never flinched before rallying to even the score with a 27-25 win.
Notre Dame then won the final two sets by scores of 25-10 and 25-20 to win their 20th match of the season against just five defeats.
Thursday’s win also give Notre Dame a solid hold on the top seed in their upcoming tournament with a 7-0 mark. Boyd Buchanan is now 19-9 overall and 5-3 in Division II AA East play.
Two of Boyd’s losses have been to Notre Dame with the third against Silverdale. The Lady Bucs came back to beat the Lady Seahawks and will be the second seed based on the tiebreaker.
“Boyd Buchanan played a great match and blocked really well, but we just had to adjust and keep swinging,” said Notre Dame coach Dan Clotfelter following the competitive match where neither team never budged an inch.
“We have an experienced team and most of the time, we can find a way to win, but we didn’t get down on ourselves. There are just times when you have to take a punch and keep battling. That’s what we did tonight.
“It’s always hard to win a big district match on the road, so we knew it would be a battle tonight. We’ve won the district the last two years, so we have a target on our back, but we just had to keep playing our match. We had some strong serving in the last two sets, but I felt like overall we played pretty well in a tough environment,” the coach added.
Boyd Buchanan coach Shanda Kirk had nothing but praise for her team against a team they always have great matches with.
“We played hard, but that’s a solid team over there,” she said, pointing to the team in green across the gym.
“I thought our defense was phenomenal. We had a chance to take a big lead, but just couldn’t finish that second set. We had some great rallies that was really fun to watch, but the good news is that we hope to get another shot at them.
“Last year was tough for us as our varsity was quarantined at the end of the season and we finished with JV players. So most of these girls have never had the post-season experience. But I feel great about this team and the direction we’re heading. We just have to take it one match at a time and one point at a time,” she concluded with a smile.
The first set was a dandy with 11 ties and six lead changes. Three straight service points from Madeline Solis gave Notre Dame a 21-19 lead, but a kill from Izzy Messer knotted the score at 21 and the Lady Bucs scored the next four points for the early advantage.
The second set was even better with 12 ties and seven lead changes. Notre Dame’s biggest lead was 17-12 following a kill by Reagan Wolf, leading to Boyd’s first timeout.
A kill and two blocks from Cali Sandhoff allowed the Lady Bucs to tie the score at 19-19 before Notre Dame called its first timeout.
It was tied four more times, including the last time at 25-25 before Notre Dame prevailed on a Boyd Buchanan hitting error and a kill from Wolf.
The third set belonged the Notre Dame as the Lady Irish bolted to a 3-0 lead and never trailed. Five straight service points from Riley McCormick, including three straight aces at the end, put Notre Dame in the driver’s seat.
The Lady Bucs kept battling, but they just never regained the same momentum they had in the opening set. Notre Dame led most of the way, although the Lady Bucs made things interesting when a kill from Sanders knotted the score at 14-14.
It was tied again at 16 and 17, but three kills from Wolf down the stretch was more than enough to help Notre Dame claim the match.
Wolf set the pace for Notre Dame with 16 kills and four blocks while McCormick contributed in a big way with 30 digs and five aces. Mary Fillauer was also outstanding with 42 assists and a dozen digs.
Sandhoff finished with a triple-double for the Lady Bucs as she played one of her best matches ever and finished with 25 digs, 15 kills, 14 assists, nine blocks and an ace.
Calla Brady had 24 digs while Caitlyn Kruse had 25 digs and 13 assists. Sanders finished with 11 digs, six kills, three blocks and an ace.
Play was stopped briefly during the first set and Brady honored for surpassing 2,000 digs. The talented junior now has 2,118 for her career and was rewarded with a remote-control dump truck.
Notre Dame returns to action on Monday at home against East Hamilton while Boyd Buchanan will play in the Rocky Top Tournament this weekend before hosting CSAS on Monday.
Grace will host Collegedale Academy next Thursday in a play-n match between the fourth and fifth seeds with the winner facing Notre Dame in the first semifinal at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 2 at Boyd Buchanan. The Lady Bucs then face Silverdale in the second semifinal at 3.
The two semifinal losers meet in the consolation round on Monday at 5 with the championship match scheduled to follow around 7.
NOTRE DAME STATS:
Reagan Wolf – 16 kills, 4 blocks
Madeline Solis – 10 digs, 1 ace
Riley McCormick – 30 digs, 5 aces
Lindsey Burns – 8 digs, 4 kills
Samantha Brown – 4 digs, 9 kills
Maggie Fillauer – 20 digs, 6 kills, 1 ace
Mary Fillauer – 12 digs, 4 kills, 2 aces, 42 assists.
BOYD BUCHANAN STATS:
Macy Balthrop – 9 digs, 2 kills, 4 blocks
Calla Brady – 24 digs, 1 kill
Izzy Messer – 13 digs, 7 kills, 1 block
Cali Sandhoff – 25 digs, 15 kills, 14 assists, 9 blocks, 1 ace
Alli Lee – 2 digs, 2 kills, 2 blocks
Caitlyn Kruse – 25 digs, 6 kills, 13 assists, 2 blocks, 1 ace
Reagan Sanders – 11 digs, 6 kills, 1 assist, 3 blocks.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)