John Carroll learned how difficult it is to repeat as IAAM B Conference volleyball champions Saturday. The Patriots overcame mistakes and a valiant performance by Maryvale Prep in a hard fought five-set victory, 25-27, 23-25, 25-23, 25-22 and 15-11, at Roland Park Country School.

“I was really proud of them coming back 2-0. I knew it was going to very tough, Maryvale played an excellent game,” said John Carroll coach Greg Cullison. “We had to really work for it tonight.”

“It was amazing, it was really hard, in the first two games early was really slow at the beginning,” said John Carroll’s Nicole Wagner, who had 14 kills and four services in the match. “Everybody was nervous then everybody started calming down and realizing what it takes to win this [IAAM B], it is just being a team and coming together.”

There were five ties and six lead changes in the decisive fifth set. The final lead exchange went to John Carroll as Taylor Schafer delivered the final kill to give the Patriots a season sweep over the Lions.

John Carroll relied heavily on its championship mettle after falling behind 2-0.  After falling behind early, 12-8, in the third set, the Patriots went on a six-point spurt.  Maryvale had a two-point lead late before Patriots overtook it, keeping their season alive. John Carroll blasted 18 kills in the fourth set to extend the match.

“We kind of shot ourselves [John Carroll] in the foot tonight,” said Cullison. “We missed a lot of serves and there were some times where the ball made some breaks on the net, but it all balanced out. I am tremendously proud that when we got behind 2-0 we didn’t give up.”

Behind Wagner and Jenny Hottle, the Patriots grabbed a quick 7-2 lead in the first set. They had a 21-17 advantage, then Maryvale pulled themselves together and chipped away.

Maryvale’s Morgan Jenkins delivered four kills to tie the match. The Lions capitalized on John Carroll’s mistakes and scored the final points. In the second set, John Carroll went up 20-15 before the Lions once again stormed back with a 7-0 run as Ashleigh Stallings and Jenkins led the charge.

Jenkins had 18 kills and 11 digs for the match and Sarah Koch finished with 13. Furno added 35 assists.

“I am very proud of girls today, they went out there and they played with heart and that is all I can ask for. It was a great match, they fought for every point,, they came back, made a couple of mistakes but every point was well earned by both teams,” said Maryvale coach Emily Johnson.

We knew that John Carroll was going to pull out all of the stops and we were prepared for that. We knew that were going to bring the heat and we knew we had to bring a great formula in order to have a successful match.”

In the end, it was John Carroll which discovered its mix of toughness and talent to remain champions.

“Everybody wanted it, every person on the floor or the bench did want this.  Everybody knew we could do this and we did,” said Wagner.