Mercy (31-1) is ranked No. 1 in the nation by PrepVolleyball.com and MaxPreps.com
One victory away from a perfect regular season, the Mercy Academy volleyball team couldn’t complete it Thursday night.
Avenging a straight-set loss in August, host Sacred Heart knocked off Mercy 19-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-27, 15-10 in both teams’ final regular-season match.
Mercy (31-1) is ranked No. 1 in the nation by PrepVolleyball.com and MaxPreps.com.
Sacred Heart (22-12) lost to Mercy 25-19, 25-18, 25-14 on Aug. 24 but is peaking at the end of the season, coach Eric Garvey said. The Valkyries also knocked off nationally ranked Assumption two weeks ago at the Asics Challenge in Chicago.
“As a coach you always want a state championship, but deep in our minds we didn’t really know if that was possible,” Garvey said. “Mercy put it to us earlier this year, but now that we’ve got Assumption and Mercy here recently we know in our heads that it’s very possible. There’s nobody we don’t have a shot of competing against and beating.”
It was another matchup of the coaching Garvey brothers, as Eric’s Valkyries got the best of Todd’s Jaguars.
Eric Garvey said junior setter Anna Zwiebel was the key for his squad, as the Valkyries scored 10 straight points on her serve during the second set. She finished with 43 assists, 10 digs, eight kills, five aces and four blocks.
Paige Hammons (17 kills, 13 digs), Lauryn Bennett (16 kills) and Sydney Shearn (36 digs) also had big nights for Sacred Heart.
“We knew most people expected (Mercy) to come in their last game and wrap up their undefeated season, so we had absolutely nothing to lose,” Garvey said. “We just stayed aggressive … and fought through some things with a lot of composure. (Mercy) hasn’t been in too many of those situations, and we put some pressure on them and showed they were vulnerable.”
Both teams will open district tournament play next week.