By John Miller (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Springfield, Mo. — One of the best seasons in Springfield Catholic volleyball history just got a little bit better.
The Fightin’ Irish swept Marshfield 26-24, 25-12, 25-13 at home on Tuesday night, giving the team its program-best 28th win of the season.
Catholic (28-2-1) trailed 16-8 in the opening set before flipping a switch and dominating Marshfield (26-5) the rest of the match for the three-set victory.
Brianna Utecht led the Jays with six kills, while Mollie Thomas paced Marshfield with 10 digs.
“We started off tight and weren’t relaxed,” Catholic coach Dan Evans said. “From that point on, we came out and played two-and-a-half great sets of volleyball.”
The Irish responded to the eight-point deficit by going on a 7-0 run, including a kill and an ace from sophomore Grace O’Reilly.
“We all came together so well at the end of the first set,” O’Reilly said. “We’ve worked so hard this season. We all just felt it.”
Marshfield had a 24-23 lead late in the first and a chance to close out the opening set, but back-to-back kills from Irish junior Cherie Sabini and an ace from junior Hallie Cook gave Catholic the first-set win.
The Jays carried the first set loss into the second set, falling behind 10-1 and 12-2 out of the gate.
“Starting out strong in the second was big,” Evans said. “When we get a big lead like that, we’re really hard to come back on. When you have so many offensive weapons like we do, it’s hard for teams to come back from a deficit like that.”
The Irish are the best serving team in Class 3, leading the state in service aces. They got two from Cook in that second-set rally that helped bury Marshfield early.
“We work on serving a lot,” Evans said. “Tonight, they certainly came through and had some great serves.”
Marshfield showed more fight in the third set, trailing 10-9 before Catholic scored eight straight points, pulling away for good.
“If we keep playing how we’re playing, we could win districts and go to sectionals, maybe state,” said O’Reilly. “We’ve worked so hard this season. I don’t know if it can get any better.”
Catholic will play in a Big 8 crossover match on Thursday, October 22, before hosting district play as the top-seed on Tuesday, October 27. The Irish will face either fourth-seed Hollister or fifth-seed Buffalo.
Marshfield travels to Logan-Rogersville on Wednesday, October 21 and will also play in a Big 8 crossover match on Thursday, October 22. The Jays will open district play as the two-seed on Monday, October 26 in Camdenton against three-seed West Plains.