Class AA final preview
No. 1 Ossining (19-1) vs. No. 2 Ursuline (16-2)
When: Friday, 5 p.m.
Where: Hendrick Hudson H.S.
Key players: Ossining — Molly Haag, Sr., OH; Kelsey Quain, Jr., S; Mychael Vernon, Fr., OH. Ursuline — Maura McGlynn, So., OH; Katie McLoughlin, Sr., MB; Charlotte Stivala, Sr., OH.
Outlook: They may not have met during a regular season match, but these two teams have history with one another this year. Ossining beat Ursuline during a pool play match in the Breast Cancer Awareness tournament hosted by Hen Hud, but several Ursuline players missed the match due to taking the ACT. Nevertheless, this should still be a battle of a match.
Ossining is seeking its first section title since 2004, well before head coach Lauren Riccardi took over the program, while Ursuline is hoping the third time is the charm under head coach Gigi Kemp. Both teams have excellent serving, so serve-receive should be a key factor in the match. Ossining and Ursuline are both ranked in the Journal News/lohud Top 10, checking in at No. 3 and No. 5, respectively, and both were projected to meet in the finals this year.
The biggest difference in the two teams lies in their form of attack. The Pride run the majority of their offense through the wildly entertaining Mychael Vernon, who has tallied more than 30 kills in five matches this year, with a high of 52 against Yorktown. Vernon also has four matches with at least 20 kills, each of which were recorded in sweeps. The bottom line is that the girl can swing.
Ursuline uses a more balanced approach, evenly distributing sets to Maura McGlynn, Katie McLoughlin, and Charlotte Stivala. The trio have regularly recorded double-digit kills in the same match, including Wednesday’s semifinal against New Rochelle. The Koalas throw up an impressive block on defense, which could cause problems for the Pride.
Prediction: Regardless of which team wins, I’m getting a great storyline out of it. I can easily see this match going five sets, which is great for entertainment, but awful for my deadline with the Class C final right behind it. Ossining has proved to be a worthy No. 1 seed and should be the respected as such until someone can hand the Pride a loss. If Ursuline can shut down Vernon, who has registered over 62 percent of the team’s kills this year, then the Koalas will be in tremendous shape to win it all. Since my tournament preview correctly predicted this meeting, I’ll double down on myself and stick with the same scores: Ossining wins in five, 20-25, 25-22, 25-18, 24-26, 25-22.