Notre Dame Prep's Jess Kelly has an interesting perspective on the dynamic between her Blazers and Maryvale, considering the senior libero played for the Lions against NDP during an injury-marred freshman season before transferring.
And by earning a Division I athletic scholarship to play volleyball at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Kelly's move from Maryvale's Brooklandville campus to NDP's in Hampton has seemingly paid off, big-time.
After all, Kelly was a key performer on NDP's unbeaten Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship squad last fall, and she helped the Blazers to a dominating 25-13, 25-11, 25-7 sweep of Maryvale on Wednesday afternoon to record their 17th straight triumph.
That said, had she stayed a member of the Lions things might have been different for the IAAM B Conference semifinalists, who battled eventual conference champion Roland Park Country School down to the wire before bowing in the playoffs.
"I just felt that NDP was a better fit for me," said Kelly, whose sister graduated from Maryvale last spring.
Kelly was part of an effort by the Blazers, who built early momentum and kept rolling through all three sets, including a final set in which she contributed five assists. Junior Leah Rock added three assists and classmate Brooke Newell had two kills in the rout.
Senior Francesca Zink led NDP in the first set with five assists while senior standout Marisa DeLuca and junior Brynn Blackstock had three kills each.
The middle-set heroes were Newell and freshman Julia Franzoni, who pitched in with three kills apiece while Blackstock and DeLuca had two each.
Of the few flaws NDP coach Jim Isphording could find with his team, the main shortcoming was serving to Maryvale freshman Kayla Koch.
"We were working on spot-serving," said Isphording, whose team is 30-1 since 2012. "I told the girl not to serve to No. 9, who is there best player, but we did three times, and that was not smart."
Other than that, though, almost everything else seemed to work for the Blazers, who swept the Institute of Notre Dame earlier this week to run their record to 2-0. Maryvale is 0-1.
"We look at it as a good opportunity to run plays and work on things," the coach added. "You always have to work on weak part of your game."
If there were weak parts to the Blazers, it's no wonder the Lions had difficulty exploiting them.
For one thing, almost every NDP player plays the sport year-round, which is hardly the case for the Lions.
"Our freshman (Koch) has a lot of club experience," Maryvale coach Missy Little said. "And we have one or two others, like Kacie Galloway. But for the most part, we don't have a lot of club players."
Nevertheless, the former UMBC standout said that her program is making strides to improve.
"We have a senior libero and a senior setter, but other than that, we're pretty young," Little said, noting that she is counting on solid leadership from senior Sara Lansinger and junior Brooke Franklin. "We started two seniors, three juniors, two sophomores and a freshman. It's a young group, but I can feel the enthusiasm building. Today, we just went out to do our best. That's all you can do."