Unbeaten and top-ranked St. Ursula Academy needed just 40 minutes to dispatch rival Notre Dame Academy 15-5, 15-7, and Central Catholic had to go the distance for a 15-7, 9-15, 15-8 victory over Bowsher last night in the City League volleyball playoff semifinals at Waite.
The Arrows (20-0, 9-0), who have been No. 1 in the Division I state poll all season, breezed to their first-game win before receiving a brief challenge midway in game two against the upset-minded Eagles.
``The best thing I can say is I saw good movement on our side of the court and we played defense well,'' Arrows coach John Buck said. ``At times, when we scored in spurts, we were doing a good job at the net.''
Notre Dame (14-7, 6-3) pulled even at 5-5 on senior April Hall's serve in Game 2. But St. Ursula, the defending league champion and state-runner-up, tightened its defense and scored 10 of the match's final 12 points to advance to tomorrow's 7 p.m. title match here.
Senior Elizabeth Cron led the Arrows' front-row attack with eight kills. Sophomore Sarah Florian added six.
``I think we're just about to our peak,'' Cron said. ``We're not there yet but, if we keep working and playing the way we are, we'll be there at the right time.”
In the second match, Central (16-2, 8-1) started quickly behind setter Angie Pasquinelli, who served the Irish to a 10-0 lead before Bowsher (14-6, 7-2) gained a sideout.
The Rebels pulled within 12-7, paced by Biz Schaetzke (five kills in match) and Danielle Rego (four kills). But the deficit proved too large to overcome.
Bowsher used the change in momentum, however, to take control of Game 2. The Rebels pulled from a 4-4 tie to a 9-4 edge mostly on the service of Chelsea Wawrzyniak. Central cut it to 10-9 before being pressed into a third game for only the second time in 18 matches this season.
The Irish proved equal to the task.
``Bowsher played great defense,'' Central coach Denise Wiczynski said. ``They were digging up some balls and they came back. But we started moving some hitters around and did some different things on defense, and it seemed to click. We got up and over people a little bit.''
The score was tied 4-4 before Central scored five straight points and rolled to victory behind the net play of Brooke Neptune, Lauren Muller and Erin Jasin.
Pasquinelli and Muller teamed up for a successful block on the match-deciding point.
Neptune led the Irish with eight kills in the match.
``Central's huge,'' Bowsher coach Jan Lehman said. ``They blocked us at the end and that was the difference.''