Two very different teams headed onto the volleyball court at Morris Catholic on Thursday afternoon, both with the same immediate and long-term goals.
The Crusaders were thrilled to host their first home Morris County Tournament match in school history. Visiting Parsippany Hills felt slighted by the coaches, the players determined to prove they deserved a better seed.
Both were able to celebrate after the Vikings’ 25-14, 25-10 victory.
Morris Catholic, the 16th seed, embraced the home match as a sign of how much the team has progressed. The Vikings, who were voted the No. 17 seed on Tuesday, reveled in their intensity, already excited for a second-round date with top-seeded Mendham.
“I knew we were better than that. We played good teams and were close,” Parsippany Hills senior Shayna Vallauri said. “We were more intense and pushing a lot harder. We wanted it a lot more. We wanted to show everyone we were better than how we were ranked.”
The Crusaders (3-5) had been introduced at a school assembly on Thursday, and fliers announcing the MCT match had been posted around the building.
“It’s a huge deal,” said senior Cait Hanus, who had five kills and an ace. “It was nice to see the volleyball team taken seriously and respected as a team.”
The Vikings (3-4) didn’t give Morris Catholic much time to enjoy the home court. With the first game tied 4-4, senior setter Amber Lee served three straight aces. Senior Sara Salem added two more, as Parsippany Hills scored 12 of the next 16 points.
The Vikings opened the second game with seven straight points behind a kill and a block from sophomore Mikaela Dredden, another kill by Lee, and Morris Catholic’s unforced errors. Salem had six kills, four aces and a dig. Vallauri and senior Kaitlyn Jansen added three kills apiece for the Vikings. Sophomore setter Erin Fulmore had 13 assists and two aces.
“It made us more motivated,” Salem said. “We want, each day, to fix something, and progressively get better as a team.”