Mercy fights back, stuns Catholic for championship CATHOLIC LEAGUE VOLLEYBALL

October 24, 1994|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,Special to The Sun

When Rachael Grob of Mercy prepared to serve late in Game 3 yesterday against Catholic, she knew the Sharpshooters were in trouble. Catholic had won the first two games and led, 9-4, in this one.

"We needed a spark," said Grob.

And she provided it.

Grob used her line-drive serve to score 11 straight points and give Mercy the victory -- and the momentum. Top-seeded Mercy later fought off match point and went on to score a stunning 9-15, 3-15, 15-9, 15-10, 16-14 victory over third-seeded Catholic in the championship game of the Catholic League tournament at Seton Keough.

Catholic controlled the match before Grob's streak. The Cubs, who took advantage of strong efforts from Jen Betley, Michelle Chilcote and Amy Robinson, played consistently and seemed in command when they scored the final 10 points of Game 2 for a 2-0 lead.

Mercy (9-1), which also won the regular-season title, came out flat early. The Sharpshooters made numerous mistakes, both forced and unforced, and Catholic (12-5) repeatedly took advantage.

The errors started coming for the Sharpshooters in the second and third games. They made five straight miscues at one point in the third game, and Catholic showed no mercy, taking the 9-4 lead.

"We weren't serving well, and we weren't passing well," said Mercy coach Jerry Hulla. "We were making the errors that gave them the game."

But the 11-point streak from Grob turned around the match.

Mercy had scored just one point on Grob's serves before that. But this time, she came through with four aces to help the Sharpshooters reel off the 11 straight points.

"We had to get on a roll," said Grob. "Once we won [that game], we got fired up. I had to step up and do it for the team."

Grob did it again in Game 4. She contributed two aces as Mercy scored six straight on her serve to take a 6-2 lead. Catholic sliced the lead to 11-10 at one point, but Nicole Russell served the last four points to seal that victory.

In addition, Grob helped the Sharpshooters begin attacking at the net. She finished with 16 kills, several in the final two games as Mercy played more aggressive volleyball.

"She was in a zone," said Hulla, who also got help from Meg Kline's 11 kills. "After the 11 straight, she was golden."

Still, Mercy needed to fight for the victory. The Sharpshooters took a 5-2 lead early in the final game, but the Cubs rallied to cut the lead to 12-11.

Robinson then served for Catholic, and the Cubs took advantage of an Anna Prearis kill, an ace and a Mercy mistake to get to match point at 14-12. But Mercy once again came through in the clutch as Tricia Henry got the serve back with one of her nine kills.

Lisa Rosenberger then entered to serve for Mercy. Catholic could not return serve on the first point, and Mercy tied it when Henry made an over-the-head shot. A Rosenberger ace brought Mercy to match point, and the Sharpshooters finished it off on the next point as Catholic could not return serve.

"I said before the match that it would be decided on service return and serves," said Catholic coach Leo Matanguihan. "Mercy served better than we did."

But in the end, Grob was the key for Mercy's serves. She served for only one point for the Sharpshooters in the final game, but there would not have been a Game 5 -- or Game 4 -- without the 11-point streak.

"It was a tremendous serving streak," said Matanguihan. "There was nothing we could have done. We were just hoping she'd hit the ball out of bounds."

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