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Mount de Sales volleyball falls to Spalding in four sets

Mount de Sales' Emily Smith, left, and Lynn Walsh, right, faced St. Paul's hitter Kendall Burdette in the IAAM A Conference volleyball championship match last year. Smith returned this season for the Sailors who lost to Spalding in four sets Friday night.
Mount de Sales' Emily Smith, left, and Lynn Walsh, right, faced St. Paul's hitter Kendall Burdette in the IAAM A Conference volleyball championship match last year. Smith returned this season for the Sailors who lost to Spalding in four sets Friday night. (File photo/2013)

Timely power hitting, strong defense and consistent serving proved to be the right ingredients for the visiting Archbishop Spalding Cavaliers as they defeated Mount de Sales 25-9, 22-25, 25-18, 25-2 Friday.

It was a showdown between two teams who entered the match tied for third in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference.

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Spalding improved to 11-6 overall and 4-2 in the league with one match remaining with Pallotti.

The Sailors fell to 7-8 overall and 3-3 in the league with a senior night date with Seton Keough looming

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Junior outside hitter McKenzie Mensch led the Cavaliers with 18 kills and junior middle hitter Naiya Dalce added 17 kills.

It may have been a Dalce hit that was blocked by Sailor senior Lauren Munter for the final point of the second set that swung the momentum back to the Cavaliers after the Sailors had evened the match.

"It just makes me feel like if someone blocks me I know I have to hit a different way or hit around the block next time and it just fires me up for the next game so I know where to hit and where the spots are," Dalce said.

Seven kills by Mensch helped the Cavaliers hold a slight lead in the third set before she turned the hitting heroics to Dalce and they both benefited from the setting of Sydney Mose and Alyssa Berke.

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Leading 20-17 in the second set, Dalce had two kills and a tip on the final point to end it.

That point started with a tough dig by junior libero Sarah O'Callaghan, who continued making crucial digs in the final set.

Sailor coach Monica Owensby was quite aware of her back row dominance.

"Their libero was good," she said. "We tried so much to avoid her because she was there for every attack, every serve, everything. We could not avoid her. She was fabulous."

O'Callaghan has been a defensive specialist since she started playing in the fourth grade.

"I feel great when I get a ball up because I feel like its my job in the back row to do that, especially those hard hits when you think its going straight down and when I get it up I feel amazing," said O'Callaghan, who was also a perfect 18-for-18 from the service line.

"That's one thing (serving) we try to work on," Spalding coach Scott Rombach said. "We had a day this year where we didn't miss a serve the whole match. As a team we are serving 93 percent."

Set one turned on the jump serving of senior Cori McCrary, who served for nine straight points and turned a 9-5 lead into an 18-5 advantage.

In a tight fourth set, it was five missed serves by the Sailors that kept them from pulling away, despite strong hitting from seniors Taylor Swenski (team-high 12 kills) and Munter (10 kills) and key blocking from junior Caroline Kelly (four blocks).

Freshman Alexa Welch had 29 assists for the Sailors, who trailed 15-14 in the final set after a kill by Swenski that was set up by a rejection from Kelly.

But, a hit by Dalce led to a Sailor lift and Dulce followed with a tip and block and the lead was 18-14.

"When she (Dalce) gets on a roll, she's almost unblockable," Rombach said.

The closest the Sailors came was 22-20 after Kelly's block, but the Cavaliers called a time out and won the final three points, including one that started with a diving dig by O'Callaghan leading to a Mensch kill.

"It was a roller coaster of a match," Owensby said.

Despite, the loss on the court, the coach was very pleased with money raised for the St. Agnes Breast Cancer Center on the first annual Pink Out Sideout for Cancer.

"It went well," said the coach whose team wore pink jerseys. "We are going to do it again."

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