With Paige Hammons and Anna Zwiebel leading the way, the Valkyries had just enough firepower to avoid an upset.
With the bright lights of Las Vegas beckoning, Sacred Heart Academy’s volleyball players found their minds wandering a bit Wednesday night.
But with Paige Hammons and Anna Zwiebel leading the way, the Valkyries had just enough firepower to avoid an upset.
Hammons (16) and Zwiebel (11) combined for 27 kills and Julia Boswell added 23 digs as Sacred Heart beat host Manual 25-13, 22-25, 25-13, 26-24 in a matchup of Seventh Region powers.
Sacred Heart (9-5), ranked No. 4 in the state, will leave this afternoon for the prestigious Durango Classic, a 64-team tournament Friday and Saturday in Las Vegas.
“We didn’t play our best,” said Hammons, a 6-foot-1 sophomore. “We kind of looked over this team, and we shouldn’t have. They’re a good team. I think we’re all just really excited to be going to Vegas.”
It was the eighth match in seven days for a Sacred Heart squad that finished fourth in last weekend’s Louisville Invitational Volleyball Tournament. Coach Eric Garvey admitted he saw some fatigue in his players.
DuPont Manual Lady Crimsons’ Elizabeth Schaaf (left) and Aurryella Mason try to stop the ball hit to them by Sacred Heart Valkeries’ Mary Ann Smith. as duPont Manual plays Sacred Heart Academy. 17 Sept 2014
“We have some young parts that haven’t been through this schedule and might be looking to a big weekend ahead,” he said. “But I knew Manual would be good. They played solid and pushed us and made us fight for everything to earn the victory.”
Aurryella Mason had 15 kills and fellow senior Mackenzie Ferriell added 13 kills and three aces to lead the No. 16 Lady Crimsons (13-6).
First-year coach Caitlin Welch, a former Mercy Academy and University of Louisville star, was pleased with her team’s effort but wanted more.
“There’s a difference between skills and maturity, and maturity is something we don’t have,” she said. “It’s time for them to grow up as a team. … Our mentality is our biggest weakness. If we can improve that, we can make it very, very far.”
Hammons had five kills and an ace as Sacred Heart dominated the first set, but Garvey chose to rest her in the second because of a minor shoulder injury.
Manual took advantage, getting two kills from Mason and an ace from Hannah Just to take an 18-15 lead. The Valkyries pulled within two points on four occasions, but Tonysha Curry’s block sealed the set.
Garvey went back to Hammons in the third set, and she had four kills as the Valkyries cruised.
“She’s a game changer,” Garvey said. “She can play at a level that can take over a match. She’s not real familiar with the outside position, so she’s getting more and more in a comfort zone there and getting better all the time.”
Manual appeared poised to force a fifth set, taking leads of 9-3 and 19-13 in the fourth before Sacred Heart rallied. Mason’s kill gave the Lady Crimsons a 24-22 lead, but the Valkyries scored the final four points for the victory. Hammons had her final two kills during the run.
The Valkyries played without senior defensive specialists Sydney Shearn and Christina Gregory, but Garvey hopes to have both back in Las Vegas.