If the John Carroll volleyball team was using yesterday's game at defending Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference champion McDonogh as a measuring stick, then the Patriots definitely measure up.
Led by second-team All-Metro player Kayani Turner, John Carroll (10-0, 9-0) quickly dispatched the depleted Eagles, 25-6, 25-10, 25-5, in a much-anticipated game for both teams.
The Patriots, who last year won the IAAM B Conference title before moving to the A Conference this season, never trailed in any of the three games.
"This is the first time in the history of our programs that our schools have met," said Patriots coach Greg Cullison. "Anytime that you beat McDonogh, with the tradition their program has, it's a big win."
John Carroll used runs of seven points on the serve of Colleen Egan and eight points on the serve of Christy Callahan to take the first game, 25-6.
After trailing in the second game 17-6, McDonogh (5-3, 4-2) fought back in the second game. An ace by Tiffany Grant and a kill by Arianna Davis cut the Patriots' lead to 17-10, before Turner collected three kills to give John Carroll the win.
The Patriots, behind three aces by Natilie Vielkind and one by Nicole Deutsch, Turner and Egan, easily took the third game.
"We handled the ball better than they did," said Cullison. "We served and passed very well, and that was the difference."
"I thought it would be a little more competitive than it was," said Turner, a senior who will soon choose a college from among volleyball scholarship offers. "We respected them because they were the defending champions, but we played our game today."
Cullison credits much of the Patriots' success to Turner, who finished with seven kills, well below her average.
"She's taken us from being a good team to being a great team," Cullison said. "She started playing volleyball so she could stay in shape for basketball, but she's worked real hard and dedicated herself to the sport."
The win puts the Patriots in the driver's seat in the IAAM, but Cullison says that their toughest competition will be themselves.
"Someone has labeled us as the team to beat," he said, "but we can beat ourselves if we don't play well. Our goal is to get 1 percent better each day."
McDonogh coach Ginger Gelston-Powell was complimentary of the Patriots' effort, but said that other factors contributed to her team's showing.
"We were missing both of our starting setters [one due to illness and one for unspecified reasons], and we had our outside hitters playing that position. We only had two people in their usual positions. Had I known that we wouldn't have [our setters], I could have prepared. We made way too many errors."