September 20th, 2010
Assumption Digs Deep for Win
Rockets upend Valkyries in battle of national powers.
It’s been an all too familiar story with the top 10 ranked Assumption high school volleyball team this year. Split the first two games of a match, dominate—really dominate—the third game of the match, lose by a whisker in the fourth game and then find themselves with their backs to the wall in the fifth and deciding game of the match. It happened at Muncie Burris high school and again vs. Mercy Academy.
But this time, in front of an excited, packed house at Sacred Heart, they found a new ending to that story. Led by the stellar all-around play of Notre Dame-bound Jeni Houser, Assumption rallied late to earn a hard fought victory over rival, and top 20 ranked, Sacred Heart 25-23, 22-25, 25-12, 22-25, 17-15.
Houser finished with 21 (unofficial) kills, 5 stuff blocks and 3 service aces for the match. She also contributed a few unlikely digs during critical moments of the match. Not an easy task for a 6’3” Middle Blocker. “It was a really good team win,” said Houser. “We had a few mistakes, but we fought to the end and made the plays when we needed them.”
Just 19 days ago Assumption dominated Sacred Heart at home winning three straight games with relative ease. This time around, the Valkyries made certain that there would be no giving up, no giving in. “We’ve been in a number of these matches over the years,” remarked Sacred Heart coach Eric Garvey. “The momentum swings up and down in a match like this. We got caught up a bit in the emotion of the match, but it was an intense battle. It’s nice to see that we’ve made some progress since our last match with them and hope to continue to get better.”
Assumption coach Ron Kordes would like an answer to the puzzling trend of his team’s play in big games. “We win a game, lose a game, then dominate a game and then we turn around and we’re down 19-11 (in the fourth game),” said Kordes. “We’re still trying to figure out how we keep doing that. We were lucky to get out of here with a win. Sacred Heart, to their credit, played great. They hung around and gave us all we could handle.”
After rolling through Sacred Heart in game three of the match, 25-12, Assumption came out flat in game four falling behind 19-11. The Rockets then went on a 9-3 run with an offensive attack that featured eight kills to put them behind by just one, 22-21. But Sacred Heart wrested back the momentum and reeled off three of the next four points to win the game and send it to a fifth and final game.
In the final game, Assumption relied heavily on the back row play of Senior Defensive Specialist Jackie Napper and Middle Blocker Dallas Zimmerman. Zimmerman contributed three kills and two blocks in the game and Napper played her usual unwavering defense.
Game five see-sawed until Sacred Heart’s Sarah Wombwell’s service ace gave the Valkyries a 14-11 lead. Needing one point to win, the Valkyries had an opportunity to clinch the match with their superb outside hitter Monica McGreal. McGreal's spike was scooped up neatly by Napper. From Napper, the ball was set to Outside Hitter Claire Gerwig who dinked the ball into an empty corner of the Sacred Heart defense.
“I told the girls that we don’t have to bury the ball every time,” said Kordes. “If you see the court and can get there with a three-quarter or off-speed shot, then do it. It was a great shot at a great time for us.”
After the game, Napper gave an honest response and a little perspective for how the Rockets played. "We were all a little nervous," she said. "But we kept our composure and made some aggressive serves at the end. That was a good win for us."