September 10th, 2019

No. 1 Assumption holds off No. 2 Mercy

Block_screenshot 2018-10-06 at 2

Paul Najjar

Senior Writer


No. 1 Assumption holds off No. 2 Mercy
Mercy junior setter Elena Scott dishes a quick set to junior Jaymison Summers for the kill; cover: Assumption MB Rylee Rader stuffs one of her five blocks for the Rockets.

Serve. Defend. Hit. Block.

The No. 1-ranked Assumption Rockets were pushed every point by the No. 2-ranked Mercy Jaguars, but the visiting Rockets found a few more swings and a few more blocks to earn a hard-fought 25-22, 25-23, 21-25, 25-21 win.

While the Jaguars served at an elite level and extended points with their plucky defense, Assumption seniors Rylee Rader and Anna DeBeer put away shots at critical moments in the match to come away with the win.

“We’ve been struggling with our serve and pass game,” senior MB and Ohio State commit Rader said. “We got a few key passes in the air when we needed them and we can rely on our hitters to terminate shots.”

Rader, nursing a rather nasty cold, was the prime terminator for Assumption finishing with 15 kills, 3 blocks and 2 ace serves. DeBeer, a Louisville commit, added 13 kills, 3 blocks and 2 aces as the two seniors willed their young Rockets teammates to the win.

“You take DeBeer and Rader off the court, and everybody else on the team is new to this (environment),” Assumption head coach Ron Kordes said. “You can explain the atmosphere all you want, but the players have to get through the shock of that hostile, loud environment, settle down and play through it.”

Assumption (11-0) dropped its first set of the season and was perilously close to dropping at least one more against the feisty, composed Mercy squad before a rowdy home crowd on Fegenbush Lane. And that crowd definitely lifted the Jaguars (6-2) throughout the match.

“The crowd was great,” Mercy head coach Matt Thomerson said. “We know we’re undersized and we know we have to serve aggressively, be resilient, play great defense to wear down opponents and have a balanced attack.

“With five seniors and seven juniors, all of those kids are willing to work hard and give a great effort. Tonight we were balanced at times, but we’re continuing to develop players like Olivia Rectenwald, Jaymison Summers and Allison Holloway. It was good to see them contribute the way they did.”

Mercy took a 15-10 lead in the first set following three consecutive kills from senior OH Caitlin Carpenter prompting a timeout from Kordes.

“We had to settle down the team because you could see that set slipping away,” Kordes said. “We were passing the ball all over the place. And then to come out of that (timeout) with an 8-0 run, that was good to see.”

That Assumption run included seven points scored by seniors: Savannah Neal had two; DeBeer two and a block and Rader had a block and a kill. Those were big points in big moments from the veterans.

Though Mercy would rally and close the lead to 24-22, Assumption scored the set winning point on the 11th attack error from the Jaguars.

The visitors went up 14-7 in set two only to see the Jaguars peel off a 12-3 run to take a 19-17 lead. The catalyst for that run was Mercy’s superb junior setter Elena Scott (Louisville commit), who served back-to-back-to-back aces to give the Jags a lead. She then put away a kill on the second touch with a twisting, near-impossible angle smash that gave Mercy a 21-20 lead.

Assumption would then go to Rader to close out the set at 25-23.

The Jaguars were able to crush the Rockets from the service line and on defense to keep this match close.

“We really tried to serve them aggressively so they couldn’t run their middle as much and that helped us a lot,” Scott said. “I just kept moving them deep, then short, making them (Assumption’s defense) think a little bit and never let them know where the ball was going.”

Scott stuffed the stat sheet with 8 aces, 4 kills and 26 assists as well as a number of diving digs. Carpenter led all hitters with 17 kills, while senior Olivia Rectenwald contributed six kills and junior Allison Holloway recorded four kills and three blocks.

Set three was all about the service game as the Jaguars pounded 8 aces in the set to go with 8 kills and 9 Assumption attack errors for the 25-21 win. Junior OH Fallan Lanham (4 kills, 3 aces) finished off the set with a kill on an overpass.

Assumption jumped out to a 19-10 lead in set four and staved off a valiant Mercy comeback attempt to win the set and close the match at 25-21.

“It’s not easy winning a match with 17 service errors and 19 aces against you,” Kordes said. “Mercy served great and served tough all night. They bring heat with their serves.

“We’re still having trouble connecting and we’ve got to be able to feed Rader the ball in the middle because that’s a big advantage for us. We missed the timing there a little bit, but they’re all new to it and we’ll just keep working on it.”

Threes were wild for Mercy as Scott (twice) and Lanham (once) served three aces in a row. The Jaguars peppered Assumption with 19 aces in the match. Meanwhile the Rockets committed 17 service errors.

Assumption, ranked in the top 5 nationally, will host the nation’s No. 2 team Mater Dei from California this Thursday at 6:00 p.m. The players and coach are excited for the opportunity. Assumption defeated Mater Dei 2-1 both last year and in 2017 in the semifinals at the Durango Fall Classic. The Rockets have won that tournament 6 times and are the two-time defending champions.

“It’s going to be so much fun to have them play here,” Rader said. “We’ve played them the past two years in Durango (at the Durango Fall Classic) and they were great games. I had the opportunity to play with their setter (Mia Tuaniga) at an under-20 national team camp and she’s a great player. We’re excited for the opportunity.”

Mercy will host Clearwater Central Catholic (Fla.) Thursday night at 8:30 p.m. Both Clearwater Central Catholic and Mater Dei will be playing this weekend in the prestigious Louisville Invitational Tournament. 

 

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