BRYN MAWR, PA – Too much. Just too much.
Despite a spirited attempt, Germantown Academy could not handle an overwhelmingly consistent Notre Dame Academy squad in the PAISAA volleyball championship November 7 at The Baldwin School.
The Irish’s 25-14, 25-23, 25-15 triumph delivered Notre Dame its fifth consecutive tournament crown.
2017 Notre Dame Varsity Volleyball Team Poses with the PAISAA Plaque - PSD Photo by John Knebels
“We played a really tough non-league schedule,” said second-year coach Brenda Collins. “I think that helped take us far in the Inter-Ac and PAISAA tournament.”
The Inter-Academic league champion Irish, who finished the season with a sparkling 19-1 record, were aggressive from the opening serve. Their only blip occurred during the second set, though that was primarily because of Germantown Academy’s resolve.
Despite falling behind by 11-4, the Patriots (14-3) tied the game at 18-18 and actually took a 23-22 lead. But the Irish answered with three straight points to take the set.
Truth be told, holding off the Patriots in the second set supplied the ultimate dagger.
“That second set was very important,” said Germantown Academy senior Gina Porter, who shares tri-captain duties with Jenna Schumann and Alison Weber. “I think that set the tone for the third set.”
Needing one more set for a sweep, Notre Dame sped to leads of 5-1 and 11-3. GA moved to within 17-11, but the Irish refused to soften its approach. Finally, leading 24-23, a slam by junior Lexi Shreiner was too difficult to return, and Notre Dame’s monarchical control of the PAISAA tournament continued.
Numerous Irish players offered their insights afterwards. Fittingly, they included a mix of seniors and underclassmen.
“We’re a young team this year,” said senior Molly Kieft, flanked by classmates Elise Butler, Allesandra Ciampi, and Olivia Andrisani. “Two freshmen. Two sophomores. I think they made a huge impact on this team.”
Collins said there is no divide among classes.
“We have a lot of senior leadership,” she said. “We also have a lot of leadership from the juniors and sophomores.”
Collins and her players agreed that Notre Dame’s mental approach to volleyball is a key ingredient to its success.
“If they make a minor mistake, they know it’s not the end,” said Collins. “One little mistake and they know they can make up for it as a team.”
Sophomore libero Maddie Donaphon concurred.
“That’s our biggest goal,” said Donaphon. “If you make a mistake, don’t worry about it. We always encourage each other and pick each other up.”
Next season is about 10 months away. Collins was asked when she would start preparing for 2018.
“Right now,” she said. “Tomorrow.”
Not exactly what the rest of the competition wants to hear.