by Tom Utescher
It was up to the volleyball team to restore a measure of Mountie pride. During the second week of September, Mount St. Joseph Academy had lost to league rival Gwynedd Mercy in no fewer than four fall sports.
The spike squads from the two schools met last Thursday evening at the Mount, and after overcoming increasingly stiff resistance from the visiting Monarchs, the host MSJ Magic pulled out a 3-0 victory. The outcome elevated the Magic’s overall record to 7-1 and lifted its league mark to 5-1.
Coming in, the Mount and Gwynedd each had just one loss within the Athletic Association of Catholic Academies, both schools succumbing to longtime AACA power Villa Maria. The Magic fell to the Hurricanes back on September 10 by a 3-1 count, with their three lost games decided by five, four, and three points.
Harking back to the Villa match, Mount St. Joe middle hitter Sarah Thomas commented, “They’re really good, but I think we’re pretty evenly matched and I look forward to playing them again.”
Thomas, a 6’1” junior, said that after the loss to the Hurricanes, “We worked on our passing a lot, and practiced closing blocks and hitting angles.”
Overall, the volleyball program at Gwynedd Mercy has been gathering momentum, so the Magic believed they were in for a battle last Thursday.
“We knew they were going to come out strong against us,” Thomas related, “and we needed to tighten things up and really play together.”
The league rivals were neck-and-neck through the early minutes of the opening game, arriving at a 10-all tie. A good serving stint by junior Monica DiIenno helped the Magic get some separation at 15-10, and later the Mount St. Joe lead reached double digits, at 22-12. The Monarchs dug in and extended the game a few more minutes, but eventually fell, 25-17.
Gwynedd did not dig as deep a hole for itself in the second game, but still wound up on the short end of a 25-20 final to go down 0-2 in the match score.
Kills by Thomas and senior outside Moira Mulholland helped the Mounties gain a 6-3 edge early in round three, but strong play at the net by Kellie Domenick, Devon Hogan, and Kelly Yoast not only got Gwynedd back in the running, but nudged the visitors ahead, 8-7.
Through the middle portion of the game, the Mount opened up a few modest leads, but Gywnedd clawed back to close the gaps until the score evened out at 17-17.
A GMA serve into the net gave the Magic a side-out, then two hits and a tip by Mulholland put three of the next four points on the home side of the scoreboard, making it 21-18. The teams traded points with a kill by the visitors’ Hogan and a ball that was tipped over two Monarchs blockers by MSJ senior Elizabeth Zakrzewski.
Gwynedd’s Allie DeAngelis then fooled the host team with a quick, unexpected pass over the net that started out looking like a setting attempt. When the next rally ended with the Magic hitting the ball into the net, their lead was down to one point, at 22-21.
A kill by Zakrzewski got the side-out for the Mount and sent DiIenno to the service line, then the Magic approached match point when a Gwynedd ball landed just beyond the left sideline. A well-placed set by MSJ freshman Jacey Abdalla helped Zakrzewski put down a kill to seal the victory.