Green and white balloons and streamers were all around as Seton Keough High celebrated its homecoming Saturday.
But Mount de Sales Academy left the Gators’ volleyball team feeling blue. In a rematch of last year’s IAAM A finals, the No. 3 Sailors swept No. 7 Seton Keough, 31-29, 25-23 and 25-8.
Senior hitter Hannah Schmidt had 16 kills for Mount de Sales (3-1 overall), and Caroline Casey added eight kills and six block kills. Liz Brown led Seton Keough (4-1) with 12 kills and Tori Antoine finished with 24 assists.
After winning an epic game one and scratching out to a 2-0 lead, Mount de Sales steamrolled the Gators in the final set to complete the sweep. Sailors coach Monica Owensby was pleased with her team’s intensity level.
“This is a new year with a new team, that intensity level isn’t going to be like last year,” said Owensby. “We have the capability of being that intense. It’s just being able to use the set, pass and attack to build that intensity.”
The Sailors steadily became the aggressors at serving, and on the frontline sparked by Casey. With game tied at 23 in the second set, Casey returned a Seton Keough shot at the net for a kill. The Gators sent a return shot into net, giving Mount de Sales a 2-0 lead.
The Sailors stormed to a quick 7-1 advantage in the third game as Casey provided a kill and a block kill. Owensby said Casey, a 6-foot-1 middle hitter, is putting her talents on display in her senior campaign.
“When she was a freshman she never thought she could pass, but I wanted her to be one of those middles who can play an all-around game,” said Owensby. “It’s difficult when you’re at that height, but whatever she does is versatility to me.”
“She’s been working on her blocking a lot,” said Schmidt. “She jumps so high, her elbows go over the net. She was a beast the whole game.”
Last season, Mount de Sales went unbeaten in IAAM A play, capped with a three-game sweep of Seton Keough in the finals at Roland Park Country School. The stage was set for a compelling rematch on the Gators’ homecoming. The first game didn’t disappoint.
Trailing 22-19, Mount de Sales won the next five points to reach the cusp of victory, but kills by Ijeoma Igwe (four blocks) and Brown got Seton Keough back even at 24 to force a deuce situation. Mount de Sales gained the first advantage at 26-25 only to service error.
Brown’s kill forced another deuce at 27. Seton Keough had the advantage at 28-27, but Schmidt’s shot went off Seton Keough attempting to block, creating another deuce. Tied at 29, Seton Keough committed a service error and followed with a volley going in the net, giving Mount de Sales the game.
The Gators jumped out an early five-point advantage in game two, and led 23-22 after a kill by Brown. Kills by Lily Glenn and Casey and another Seton Keough shot into the net, put the Gators in a 0-2 hole and never recovered.
“I think the emotion was gone and they were deflated,” said Gators coach SJ Greenway. “We got them again on the 2nd [October] so we know what we got to work on.”
The teams meet again Oct. 2 in a game that will count in the A league standings. Owensby said Saturday was likely precursor to the league season for the two-time defending champion Sailors.
“I think the league is pretty much balanced, and we’re going to have games like this,” said Owensby, whose team next play at the Bulldog Invitational at North Caroline next weekend. “Not every game is going to be handed to us, we got to work for every point.”