October 2nd, 2019

Mercy sweeps Sacred Heart

Block_screenshot 2018-10-06 at 2

Paul Najjar

Senior Writer


Mercy sweeps Sacred Heart
Mercy senior Caitlin Carpenter registers one of her match-high 14 kills

A confident, determined Mercy Jaguars team stepped onto the court Wednesday night at Sacred Heart and behind the strength of a defense that covered everything SHA hitters had to offer, the visitors cruised to a 25-16, 25-15, 25-16 win.

No. 2-ranked Mercy out-hit No. 4 Sacred Heart scoring a 38-18 advantage in total kills with senior outside hitter Caitlin Carpenter leading all hitters with 14. Junior setter Elena Scott added six kills and four blocks to go with 26 assists while junior libero Eleanor Beavin provided a cool presence in the back row.

“That was fun volleyball,” Mercy head coach Matt Thomerson said. “We asked the kids in the past few weeks to play like someone’s trying to take something away from you every single game. Don’t be satisfied with one good serve or one good point; make it a three-point run and if you make three, then go for six and if you make six, go for nine. Just go back to work and keep trying to grind out points.”

The Jaguars enjoyed five runs of at least five points in the three set win, with the most lethal one coming in the first set.

Up 11-10, Mercy’s trio of Carpenter, Scott (Louisville commit) and Beavin (Kentucky commit) took control scoring eight consecutive points. Carpenter pounded three kills, Scott had two and Beavin served back to back aces during the run to extend the Jaguars lead to 19-10.

And that pretty much sealed the win early for the visitors.

“We’ve played together in club for a long time and those two work so well together,” Carpenter said of Scott and Beavin. “We’ve worked hard in practice on our blocking, shutting down the middle and allowing our defense to make plays and give us the opportunity to score.”

Mercy is now 23-5 and ranked No. 12 nationally. They were relentless in all facets of the game and on this night it would have been tough for anyone to stop them. Since finishing second overall in the prestigious 64-team Durango Classic in Las Vegas two weeks ago, a new-found confidence has emerged with this squad.

“Early in the season we were confused on defense on nearly every ball,” Beavin said. “Our block was doing different things and we weren’t really in sync. We’ve focused hard on our blocking and defensive positioning in the past week and brought it to the game tonight.”

For the Valkyries (17-8), a promising 8-0 start has been followed by a 9-8 record since; albeit with nine of those games coming against premier competition.

“Mercy’s a great team and they play hard; they’re confident right now,” Sacred Heart head coach Brett Versen said. “We couldn’t get on a run and we couldn’t stop a run because we’re not finishing together. The skill is there and we’re making some plays, but we have to figure this out as a unit, as a team.”

The Valkyries, led by sophomore outside hitter Tess Schregner’s 7 kills and a block, couldn’t get any rhythm on offense. While both teams served tough, Mercy’s service game knocked the Valkyries out of system repeatedly. And that led to long droughts and minimal opportunities for senior middle blocker and Belmont University commit Kristen Clemons.

This weekend Sacred Heart will be participating in the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix against a gauntlet of great teams.

“We’re getting away for a tournament and maybe that will kick-start us again,” Versen said. “We played very well in Nashville to begin the season and we’ll look to recapture that solid, confident style we showed then.”

Getting Clemons and junior middle blocker Carly Furlong more involved is job one for the Valkyries. And if Sacred Heart can get them more chances to finish off points, the results should be favorable.

With just a couple weeks remaining in the regular season though, Mercy is gaining confidence every game and will be a challenge for any opponent. But they’re thinking about short term goals and the opportunities that come with winning one game at a time.

“Our middles and outsides are blocking so well,” Scott said. “Our block and our defense are on the same page and that’s really made our offense click.”

Mercy will face three tough matches in a row next week against North Oldham, at Assumption and then Male.

Those games will be a good measuring stick for Jaguars heading into postseason play. 

 

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