McDonogh rally deflates N.D. Prep Eagles take 4-game win and lock up No. 1 seed for upcoming tournament

October 17, 1997|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

In volleyball, momentum is everything, and it took Notre Dame Prep nearly two games to wrestle it away from host McDonogh yesterday.

With the match on the line, however, it took the Eagles just five minutes to win.

Trailing 13-11 in crucial game three, McDonogh rallied to score six of the final eight points, and went on to win, 15-6, 10-15, 17-15, 15-8, in what amounted to the Association of Independent Schools A Division regular-season championship.

With one division match remaining, the Eagles (12-3 overall, 4-0 in the league) assured themselves of the No. 1 seed in the league tournament. Even if they were to finish with an identical record as the Pirates (7-3, 3-1), they would still get the nod, based on head-to-head competition.

For McDonogh coach Ginger Gelston, yesterday's turning point was obvious.

"That third game gave us all the momentum back," said Gelston. "We missed a lot of serves in game two and we let a lot of balls drop that nobody went for, so to come back like that was very important for us."

After dominating play early, easily taking game one and winning 21 of the first 27 points, overall, the Eagles began missing serves and making crucial mistakes on defense. Led by Becky Picciotto and Becky Meiller, Notre Dame Prep rallied to win 10 of the final 11 points and the game.

"The second game, it was really our mistakes," said McDonogh's Aisha Mason, "We just had to keep our heads on straight and not get too cocky -- just play our game."

Led by Mason (seven kills, five aces), that's just what McDonogh did, pulling out the third game -- the winning point coming on setter Amy Iager's untouched ace.

"Things kind of went flat," said Pirates coach Ann Cavanaugh Sipos. "Our serving wasn't consistent, and we made some mistakes."

Mason, a junior, looked dominating at times, consistently winning balls at the net. Said Iager: "When you give her a perfect set, she's an incredible hitter."

Natalie Brooks, Jazmine Norton and Anne Gormley also had five kills each for McDonogh, while Kate Hyatt added four.

Provided things go as planned, the Eagles may need a performance in the playoffs, where a possible rematch could take place in the tournament finals.

A year ago, NDP defeated McDonogh in the tournament semifinals on their way to the championship.

Said Cavanaugh Sipos: "I'm looking forward to playing them again."

Pub Date: 10/17/97

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