The Notre Dame volleyball team has taken things to the limit twice in the last eight days in key City League matches.
A week after falling in five games in a tense battle with St. Ursula, Ohio's No. 3-ranked team in Division I, the Eagles prevailed in
another nerve-wracking five-gamer last night at home.
Notre Dame (9-4, 7-1 CL) Ohio's 13th-ranked team, outlasted Central Catholic 25-19, 22-25, 25-17, 24-26, 15-13 to knock the Irish (14-4, 7-1) out of a first-place tie with St. Ursula in the league. "Either one could've gone either way," Notre Dame coach Scott Mattera said of the two lengthy battles. "Sometimes the breaks go your way, sometimes they don't.
"The first four games tonight we couldn't catch a break to save our lives. Central was hustling and
making plays and diving all over the place, and we couldn't seem to catch a break. But you keep playing hard and try to play through that and make your own breaks."
Pivotal for Central were a big breakdown late in the first game, and a crucial lull early in the deciding fifth game.
The Irish were on the brink of taking a 1-0 lead in games up 19-13. But the Eagles earned a side-out point, then rode the serve of senior Kelsey Fitzpatrick to 11 straight points to close the game.
"It could've had a bigger impact had we not come back and won the second game," Central coach Melissa Belcher said. "I'm proud of my team for coming back and getting the second game, but you can't have a six-point lead and let another team have a 12-point run. That's inexcusable."
Central bounced back, taking the lead for good at 8-7, pushed it to 20-12, then hung on to even the match. The Irish then had a 12-10 edge in the third game before having another meltdown. Notre Dame used a game-breaking 12-1 run to take a 22-13 lead.
The Eagles appeared to be on the brink of victory in Game 4, holding a 23-20 after a kill from senior standout Paige Roback (16 kills). But Central got two kills from Julia Haupricht and one from Jennifer Kowalski during a game-closing 6-1 surge. Alexxis Knannlein's kill ended the game.
In Game 5, ND rolled to a 9-4 lead and was on the brink of victory when 6-1 freshman Alyssa Beach felt both ends of the emotional spectrum.
On match point, Beach was called for an over-the-net violation, then sent an attack long to allow Central within 14-13. But Beach rose to the occasion, scoring the final point by blocking Central's Abby Wietrzykowski.
"I'm really happy because I had messed up, so I proved I could do it even though I'm still young," Beach said. "I'm excited to win because we all worked hard for it."
"I'm never going to get on a kid for an aggressive error," Mattera said. "[Beach] was over the net, and then the next play she takes a big swing at it and misses it by a foot and a half. I'd rather have her do that than be tipping the ball. Then she got the third aggressive play on the block, and that's the one that ended the match."