Visiting Archbishop Spalding got an early wake-up call against Mount de Sales when the Sailors won the first set convincingly, but the Cavaliers rallied for a 10-25, 25-22, 25-18, 25-19 victory.
Addison Collins led the Cavaliers (7-2 overall, 4-0 IAAM A Conference) with 15 kills and Maria Sanabia and Maya Mauro also had strong games with 10 and eight kills, respectively. Giana Dinoto led the Sailors (6-9, 2-3) with a match-high 14 kills.
Dinoto keyed the first-set victory when she toed the service line trailing 9-7. She served 15 straight points to take a 22-9 lead.
She had six kills in the first set, including two from the back row. Anna Fleckenstien and Brigid Donahue had two kills each in the first set.
Spalding overcame the first-set woes thanks to a stronger defense and a variety of offensive weapons for senior setter Kristen Burton.
“The first set was kind of like a warmup for us, but the second set we really got it together and we really just worked as a team and the teamwork is just the most important thing that you can do,” Burton said. “We work together and build momentum and once you get that first good swing, it all goes up from there.”
Spalding coach Corby Lawrence had a feeling his team might get off to a slow start.
“I have a couple of my starters who are struggling a little bit with a little back pain and a little neck pain. So we got here and they didn’t have it when we warmed up, so I could kind of tell it was bothering my hitter and my main passer,” he said. “It was just a matter of them trying to figure out if they were going to progressively be able to stay and play with a little pain or not.”
Junior hitter Mauro and senior libero Sophia Vance (team-high 24 digs) played the entire game with nagging injuries and Burton was the glue that kept the team rolling with solid defense and pinpoint setting. She finished with 36 assists.
“She played incredible tonight, her decision-making in those moments to try to find that rhythm of hitters and then she was finding the next possible hitter,” Lawrence said. “We talked about making sure our hitters were getting their options, whether it was back row or whether it was a slide, so we weren’t one-dimensional and I think that really helped our game tonight.”
“We definitely adjusted to what they were doing and we definitely got those balls up once we adjusted,” Burton said. “We practice all the time doing those plays and I just call whatever I think is good. I look at the blockers and I just tell them what we are doing and I ask them if they are willing to do it and we just run it from there.”
Spalding trailed 19-13 in the second set when it rallied behind the serving of Margaret Mohler. Burton chipped in with a kill and an ace by Mauro cut the deficit to 21-20. A kill from Collins and an ace by Vance put the Cavaliers ahead, 22-21, and they secured the final three points after Sailor errors.
The third set was deadlocked at 14 before the Cavaliers took advantage of five kills by Sanabia and three by Mauro to win 11 of the final 15 points.
The Cavaliers led the final set, 15-7, but the Sailors rallied and cut it to 15-14, thanks to three kills and two aces from Dinoto and aggressive defense from Molly Penn, who came into the match with a team-leading 365 digs. Spalding led, 19-18, when a clutch block by Mauro triggered a 6-1 run to end the match.
It was the second tough loss on back-to-back nights for the Sailors.
“I’m going to give them credit based upon, they are a great team, they are a first-place team,” Mount de Sales coach Andre Quattlebaum said. “I think we ran into a situation where we had a five-set grueling match yesterday against Maryvale Prep and then we had to come in again and play a top team like Spalding.”
The Sailors committed several unforced errors after the first set when they didn’t miss any serves.
“My players got a little gassed and fatigued and it changed from that standpoint,” Quattlebaum said. “But, the mere fact that we were able to continue to play back and forth with them with tired legs and mental exhaustion and things like that is a great credit to our organization and our volleyball team.”
Spalding and Maryvale Prep are both undefeated after four games in the IAAM A Conference and will meet on Spalding’s senior night on Oct. 14.