INDIANAPOLIS — The last time Cathedral and Lawrence North met in a volleyball match, the Wildcats came away with their first win over the Irish in five years. Bedlam ensued.
Since then, Cathedral has won 15-of-16 matches. Lawrence North is 14-6 in that span.
The two teams will meet again at 10 a.m. Saturday in a sectional semifinal at Lawrence North. Cathedral swept Lawrence Central in the quarterfinals Thursday. Lawrence North swept Warren Central.
Cathedral breezed through their sets (25-9, 25-14, 25-10), with the exception of a blip on the radar in the second set. The Irish seized an early advantage, but the Bears scored nine straight points to take an 11-9 lead.
Cathedral tied the set before scoring the final 11 points to win 25-14. That Lawrence Central run could have sent the Irish off the rails earlier in the season, All-American Nia Robinson said. But not now.
“It shows how far we’ve come as a team,” Robinson said. “Before, we’d get down in sets and not be able to come back. The way we stuck with it and knew we had it from the start showed our confidence.”
Robinson finished the match with 27 attack attempts, 17 kills and 12 digs.
Coach Jean Kesterson said it’s key to have a “short memory” to stop opponents runs. The Irish will need to have a short memory — or better yet, no memory at all — of their loss to the Wildcats earlier in the season.
Robinson said the team hurt itself too often in September. If that changes, she likes Cathedral’s chances.
“The first time around, it was a lot of our errors,” she said. “If we fix that, if we control the game and have good energy, it’ll be great.”
Kesterson wouldn’t divulge too many plans regarding what the team has up its sleeve for Saturday. But it’s safe to say the Irish are looking for revenge.
“We have several different lineups,” she said. “We’ve been practicing for about four weeks to beat them. We have a game plan.”
The Wildcats got by the Warriors with relative ease (25-14, 25-19, 25-13). While they made 13 errors in the second set to make things interesting, they ultimately were too much for Warren Central. But that second set provided a harsh reminder that the game can change in a hurry.
“The game can get away from you quickly,” Lawrence North coach Nick Cox said. “You miss a serve, a couple of shanks and all of the sudden it’s a three- or four-point turnaround. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but we had a job to do and I thought we got it done.”
He said the match Saturday will come down to execution, something easier said than done.
“The coaches do what they can do, but it’s about the players on the floor,” Cox said in reference to any changes the teams have made since their first meeting. “Who can make the pass, that dig, that block. Whoever executes is going to be the team who wins.”
He knows his team’s margin for error is small.
“If they get it going and they play to their potential, they’re going to be a tough team to beat,” he said of the Irish. “We need to make sure we do something to disrupt their flow and get them out of their comfort level.”
Lawrence North’s Lauren Matthews, who had seven kills and a block against the Warriors, said the Wildcats were “hyped” after their win against the defending national champions earlier in the season. But in the back of their mind, they knew the bigger test would come Saturday.
It always does. Lawrence North hasn’t won a volleyball sectional since 1979. That’s what happens when Cathedral gets in the way year after year. Saturday, the Wildcats have a chance to rewrite the script.
“It’s going to be a good game,” Matthews said. “We have to serve them off the court, have nice ball control and make smart placements with our serves.”