After the top-ranked Spartans fell to the Raiders in the first game, St. Mark’s coach Nancy Griskowitz told her team to not let fourth-ranked Ursuline to set the tempo.
The players followed their coach’s advice and found their rhythm in the second game to rally past visiting Ursuline Academy 3-1 in Catholic Conference volleyball action Thursday night.
“We just told them to settle down and play our game. We were out of position several times,” Griskowitz said. “We also told them to play one point a time.”
The Spartans (4-0, 2-0) responded to their coach’s challenge in the second set, jumping out to a 16-7 lead en route to winning the set 25-20 to even the match at one set apiece.
The Spartans continued that momentum into the third set as they raced out to a 9-3 lead to start. But Ursuline (5-1, 1-1) responded with an 8-2 run to tie the game at 11.
The rest of the set was back and forth, as there were eight ties in the set from that point. St. Mark’s scored the final four points of the set to win it 25-22 and take a 2-1 lead in the match.
“We really came together as a team and worked hard together,” said Lauren Talley, who had 35 kills. “We knew everyone has talent on the court at that point, but it would come down to has the most heart.”
St. Mark’s found itself trailing the Raiders 6-4 early in the fourth set, but the Spartans went on a 7-0 run to take an 11-6 lead. They held on from there to win the set 25-19 and take the match.
One of the reasons Ursuline could not continue its first-set momentum was the strong serving of Abbie Mirabella. She had four aces and placed her serve in the right places to prevent the Raiders from setting up their offense.
“I think we were having trouble passing off of their serve. [Mirabella] was serving really well, and we were getting up to our setter, thereby not having our attack,” Ursuline coach Susan Heiss said.