THE POST-SIGNAL / Chris Quebedeaux
Notre Dame senior Melise Maloz (15) makes a play at the net during the Lady Pios’ 3-0 loss to No. 4 Sacred Heart of New Orleans Thursday in a Division IV quarterfinal contest at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner.
Lady Pios fall short in quarterfinals
The Notre Dame Lady Pios struggled to find any sort of rhythm Thursday and when they finally did, it was too little, too late in their Division IV quarterfinal contest against No. 4 Sacred Heart of New Orleans.
Sacred Heart won the first two sets handily, 25-18 and 25-14, and then fended off a late run by the Lady Pios in the third set to close out the match, 25-23.
Notre Dame, the No. 5 seed, finished the 2020 prep volleyball with an impressive record of 18-9.
“You know, we didn’t play in system very well; we didn’t receive very well, and that’s kind of been a struggle all year,” said ND coach Tara Young. “The bottom line is: if you can’t pass the ball very well, you’re not going to get a good set and you’re going to get a good swing.
“We were just out of system way too much and that makes it easy for the other team to do what they need to do to defend us.”
Sacred Heart took advantage of Notre Dame’s misfortunes and had countless blocks at the net. The Cardinals held the Lady Pios to just 25 total kills on the evening.
In the opening set, the Lady Pios kept it close early and trailed just 12-11 before the Cardinals went on a 10-0 run to take control.
The second set went pretty much the same way as the Cardinals took a 12-11 lead again and then went on another big run to close out the set on a handful of kills by Lindsey Magaw as well as a block and an ace.
Mary Catherine Mazzanti put the set away with an ace to claim the 25-14 win.
“They had an answer for almost everything we did,” said Young. “But playing defense is easier when the other team is out of system because if your pass isn’t very good and you have to set it to the outside, you get a double block on her and then it’s easy to set your defense up around that.
“When you’re in system, and you can set all three hitters, you might get a single block on the outside and that makes it a lot tougher.”
The Lady Pios made a run in the third set, taking leads of three and four points, the last at 15-11.
Sacred Heart rallied back and the two teams went back-and-forth with six ties.
With the set tied at 23-23, Magaw logged a kill to take the lead for good and then Notre Dame was called for a double hit on match point to close out the game.
“You know, I thought we did a good job and we put up a good fight,” said Young. “But we were always just one play made behind. We’d go two steps forward and then three steps back. We’d have a couple of good plays and then three not so good plays.
“We had some good, I mean really good volleys. We hung tough. They (Cardinals) are good and they played extremely well tonight.”
The Lady Pios were led by Lily Morgan and Melise Maloz.
Morgan, a junior, recorded eight kills and two blocks to go along with eight digs.
Maloz, a senior middle blocker, had seven kills, .5 blocks and two digs.
Andrus Kelbaugh, a junior middle blocker added five kills and a team-high three blocks.
“I thought our middles did well tonight,” said Young. “And I also thought we had a couple freshmen come in and do a good job.”
Those freshmen were Lydia Brown and Ellen Cormier, who each recorded three digs. Brown also had an ace.
Also contributing were Natalie Brown with four kills and five digs; Olivia Hensgens, one kill, .5 blocks and one dig; Jeanne Clare Schmid, 13 assists and six digs and Sara Boulet with 12 assists, two aces and one dig. Maddie Murrell finished with five digs.
Magaw was the leader for the Cardinals with 15 kills, five aces and a handful of blocks.
Mazzanti followed with 11 kills and May Manning had seven kills, and 11 digs. Elizabeth Maniscalco was the assist leader with 24 and Bailey Axelrad had 15 digs.
While the loss was disappointing for Young and her Lady Pios, the legendary coach was proud of what her team was able to accomplish.
“I’m so proud of this team, working through everything that was going on and they dealt with all the restrictions and everything going on,” said Young, who loses just two seniors to graduation: Maloz and Haleigh Pauley. “They continued to show up and work, even through all the adversity.
“The fact that we were able to put together a pretty regular season in a really irregular time is huge. To get 27 games in a season where it looked like we might not get anything, you have to be grateful for that.
“I’m just proud of everyone, from the players to the parents and I’m grateful and proud to be part of Notre Dame and Notre Dame volleyball.”