The Monsignor Donovan girls volleyball team displayed its mental toughness in two ways Tuesday.
Coming off a 2-0 loss to Central Regional on Monday, the Griffins bested Barnegat 25-13 and 25-22 in Shore Conference Class B South. Earlier this season, the visiting Griffins fell to the Bengals 2-1.
“All of the credit goes to the girls,” winning coach Tom Trembulak said. “It’s all on them. They communicated much better and played with confidence. They played the way they are capable of playing. I am surprised they bounced back after the loss to Central. It put us out of contention for the Class B South title. The girls were able to forget about it and put another win on our record.
“I am real proud of the girls. They learned from the past, rebuilt their confidence and won a very tough match at home the next day. We lost a tough one to Central and bounced back.”
Donovan junior middle blocker Caroline Henson, who put up five kills, said the Griffins (9-6, 7-3) entered Tuesday’s match against the Bengals (13-4, 9-1) brimming with confidence.
“I definitely felt we could beat them,” she said. “We should have beaten them the first time. I knew we could come back and win if we played like we know we can.”
Barnegat coach Karla Jennings said her Bengals did not play well.
“Our girls were scared,” she said. “Donovan was not afraid. We lost several points we did not expect to lose. We got down early. Donovan played real well. They made no errors. They passed the ball well and hustled well.”
Donovan senior middle blocker Paige Laurence blasted home a kill to give the Griffins their first win of the day. The 5-foot-8 Laurence scrapped for five digs and added four kills and five aces on the day.
“My serve helped out today,” she said. “I used my deep float serve. The ball moves around. It’s hard for the other team to return. I have been using it for about two years. I am pretty confident in it most of the time. I just find the right spot to hit it.”
“Paige has been our most consistent server all season,” Trembulak said. “She came up big serving. She used her whole bag of tricks. She hit different shots and kept them on their toes.”
The Bengals opened the second game with a 7-0 run. Junior defensive specialist Cassie Bailey keyed the spree with three aces. Senior outside hitter Meg Nichols contributed one block and one kill.
Barnegat went ahead 21-20 on a kill by senior middle blocker Sara Ridgway. The Griffins closed the game with a 5-1 spree. Senior outside hitter Lauren Pace capped the game with a kill.
“We have a lot of confidence,” Laurence said. “We came together as a team.”
For Donovan, sophomore libero Ashley Gundling notched seven digs. Pace finished with seven kills, three digs and one ace. Senior setter Aime Sinor handed out 14 assists and added three digs and two kills.
Junior outside hitter-opposite Jessica Sipili added two kills, three digs and one block. Junior middle blocker Nicole Staub contributed one kill, five digs and two aces.
Trembulak said his Griffins played a fundamentally sound match.
“We played good defense and controlled the ball,” he said. “Our ball control led to a faster offensive game. In the second game, our defense was real strong. A dig by Staub ended that early serving run. Our girls made very few errors and controlled the ball enough to fight their way back.
“The entire team on and off the court cheered each other on. The team kept up its intensity in the entire match.”
Bailey put four aces and 11 digs into the book. Ridgway added seven kills and five digs. Nichols contributed three kills and seven digs.