The Jaguars tallied 22 blocks as they topped Chicago Mother McAuley
Mercy turned the Active Ankle Louisville Invitational Volleyball Tournament final into a block party on Saturday.
The Jaguars tallied 22 blocks as they topped Chicago Mother McAuley 19-25, 25-18, 25-15 for the Gold Division championship in a matchup of national top-10 teams at the Ohio Valley Volleyball Center.
Defense led Mercy in its defense of last year’s LIVT title.
Lexie Hamrick, a 6-foot-3 senior middle blocker, recorded nine blocks and senior outside hitter Devon Rachel added five for the Jaguars (13-0), who are No. 1 in the state and No. 2 MaxPreps.com’s national rankings.
“We’ve worked extremely hard on defense the last two months, and it’s starting to show,” coach Todd Garvey said. “Once we started playing great defense, I think it sparked us.”
The Jaguars needed a spark after the Mighty Macs, No. 10 in the MaxPreps.com poll, won the first set, pulling away from a 13-all tie.
“The first game we thought they were going to think, ‘Whoa, they’re Mercy,’ ” said senior outside hitter Merideth Jewell, who tallied a team-high 14 kills. “We had to realize, calm down. We had to play our game of volleyball, and we succeeded.”
The Jaguars jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the second set thanks to two quick kills by Rachel and a block by Hamrick. Mercy led 9-7 before taking control with a 12-3 run. The surge began with a kill by Rachel followed shortly thereafter by a kill and solo block from Hamrick.
“Studies show a block is the biggest momentum-changer in a game,” Hamrick said. “That’s what we went for.”
McAuley cut it to 21-14 before back-to-back kills by Jewell were followed by a Morgan Elmore ace. The Mighty Macs stemmed the momentum momentarily with a point before a Jewell kill capped the set.
Just like the second set, the Jaguars never trailed in the third, jumping out to a 4-1 lead again. McAuley cut it to 5-4 before Mercy scored four in a row on a kill and block by Jewell, a block by Elly Burke and another Elmore ace.
The Jaguars led 13-8 when they went on a 5-1 run to take their largest lead, 18-9. The Mighty Macs trimmed it to five late, the final time at 23-18, before back-to-back kills by Rachel and Jewell ended the match.
Rachel added nine kills and Hamrick six for Mercy, which beat 2013 state runner-up Notre Dame 2-0 in the quarterfinals and Assumption 2-1 in the semis. That was the Jaguars’ second victory this week over the Rockets, who are No. 2 in the state and No. 12 in MaxPreps.com.
“I think after we lost the first game (of the final) I realized, I don’t want to lose this,” Rachel said. “I wanted to end this week on a good note.”
Quarterfinals – McAuley d. Bishop Watterson 20-25, 25-11, 25-15; Sacred Heart d. St. Joseph’s Academy 23-25, 25-17, 25-16; Assumption d. St. Ursula 25-23, 25-17; Mercy d. Notre Dame, Ky. 25-21, 27-25. Semifinals – McAuley d. Sacred Heart 25-22, 21-25, 25-16; Mercy d. Assumption 20-25, 25-13, 25-23. Final – Mercy d. McAuley 19-25, 25-18, 25-15.
Consolation games (Metro only): Third place – Assumption d. Sacred Heart 25-20, 25-21.
Quarterfinals – Paul Dunbar d. Alter, Ohio 25-14, 25-17; Walton, Ga. d. St. Henry, Ohio 32-30, 25-19; Metarie PK Country Day d. Notre Dame, Ohio 19-25, 25-21, 27-25; Manual d. Presentation 23-25, 25-22, 25-20. Semifinals – Paul Dunbar d. Walton 26-24, 22-25, 25-21; Metarie d. Manual 25-23, 23-25, 25-19. Final – Paul Dunbar d. Metarie 25-15, 25-15.
Consolation games (Metro only): Consolation semifinals – Notre Dame, Ohio d. Presentation 25-16, 25-23. Third place – Walton d. Manual 25-16, 25-17. Seventh place – Alter, Ohio d. Presentation 25-11, 25-14.
Quarterfinals – Holy Cross d. South Oldham 25-22, 25-14; Newport Catholic d. Male 25-17, 25-16; Eastern d. Butler 25-18, 25-17; Ryle d. Centerville, Ohio 25-14, 20-25, 26-24. Semifinals – Newport Catholic d. Holy Cross 25-16, 16-25, 25-16; Eastern d. Ryle 25-16, 25-12. Final – Eastern d. Newport Catholic 22-25, 25-23, 25-13.
Consolation games (Metro only): Semifinals – Male d. South Oldham 25-10, 24-26, 25-15; Centerville d. Butler, no score provided. Third place – Ryle d. Holy Cross 21-25, 25-18, 25-18. Fifth place – Centerville d. Male 25-17, 25-20. Seventh place – Butler d. South Oldham 25-14, 25-16.