There was one old winner and one new winner in yesterday's Association of Independent Schools volleyball tournament. Defending champions Oldfields and newcomers McDonogh clinched victories in the A-Division and B-Division, respectfully, before an enthusiastic crowd at the College of Notre Dame.
"It's difficult being defending champions. People cheer against you and it's difficult to keep the enthusiasm," said Oldfields coach Beth Franks, who was the coordinator of the tournament, conducted for the second year.
But Oldfields (13-1), who defeated Friends (10-15, 15-12, 15-4) to advance to the finals, mustered enough strength to come back to beat Bryn Mawr (11-15, 15-5, 15-9) in the championship.
Bryn Mawr (7-5) had beaten Notre Dame Prep to advance to the finals.
"I told my girls: 'Any team can beat any team on any given day, ' " said Bryn Mawr's coach Annemarie Merow, who's team loss to Notre Dame Prep in last year's tournament.
Her philosophy seemed to work in the beginning, but somehow the translation was lost in the second and third games.
"We lost momentum at one point. We were playing more defense than offense," said Merow.
In the final game, Bryn Mawr's Renee Carter served five straight points, two of which were aces, to cut Oldfields' lead to 9-8.
Then senior Liz Hoogenboom (five points, three kills) for Oldfields, quickly advanced the net for a hard hit.
Bryn Mawr called a timeout.
Oldfields then used the power dink to throw off Bryn Mawr's defense.
Junior Elise Saab (four points) power dinked the ball for Oldfields. The Martians began to scramble.
Bryn Mawr called another timeout with Oldfields up, 14-9.
Senior Page Scully (two kills) powered over a monster serve that Bryn Mawr could not return for the game-winner.
"I wasn't worried about the speed or the power in my serve, just [worried about] getting it in," said Scully.
Not too much strategy was used in the match at the opposite end of the court -- where McDonogh (4-9) battled Beth Tfiloh (4-11) for the B-Division championship, winning 15-9, 15-7.
"We knew in advance that Beth Tfiloh didn't bump, set, spike, so I told the girls to pass well from the start," said Ginger Gelston, McDonogh's coach. "We tend to let the opponent get the lead and then we begin to play in the middle," Gelston said.
This was both teams' first appearance in the AIS tournament.
Last year's tournament was a round-robin with eight teams. This year, the tournament was single-elimination with ten teams divided into an A-Division and a B-Division.
McDonogh beat St. Paul's (15-10, 15-6) to advance to the finals. In the latter game, Jennifer Brown (11 assists) served 15 straight points to give McDonogh the boost it needed.