Volleyball is a game of momentum. Third-ranked Mount de Sales found that out Sunday, the hard way.
The host Sailors sprinted out to a 1-0 lead in sets but couldn't hold on, dropping the Maryland/D.C. Private Schools Championship to Good Counsel, 11-25, 25-16, 25-22, 25-19.
The victory was the third straight for the Falcons, who have beaten Mount de Sales in each of the past three years.
"We were able to win the first set, and then their talent really showed," said Sailors senior Caroline Casey (nine kills). "We just couldn't keep the energy level up, and we let up a little bit. They seized the momentum."
The Sailors used kills by Casey, senior Hannah Schmidt and junior Taylor Beaumont (10 kills) to take a 13-6 lead in the first set, causing Falcons coach Karen Kart to call a timeout. After the break, Good Counsel (25-2) managed to shave only two points off the lead and Mount de Sales (17-1) won the set easily, 25-11.
The second set was the opposite of the first. The Falcons used a block and a kill by Francesca Emanuele (10 kills) as well as a kill by Meagan Donohoe (15 kills, 11digs) to take an 8-1 lead. Mount de Sales managed to cut the margin to 9-5 but could get no closer, dropping the set, 25-16.
The third set was close early, but Good Counsel took a 10-8 lead and held on for a 25-22 win. The Sailors used an ace by Schmidt (19 kills, 10 digs) and a tip by sophomore Chelsea Owensby (32 assists) to tie the set at 16, but the Falcons went on a 9-3 run to take the set and the match, 25-19.
Schmidt said Good Counsel's defense was the difference.
"I think we're pretty even, but on defense, they were just faster than we were," Schmidt said. "They got a lot of balls up, and we didn't."
"I think we were prepared for them, but we started making too many errors," Sailors coach Monica Owensby said. "We kept our composure, but once we lost [the momentum], it was hard to find it again. Their experience on the court really showed in the end."
The loss ended Schmidt's high school career; she leaves the program as the only player to play on all three of the Sailors' three consecutive Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship teams. Asked about her thoughts, Schmidt -- who will play at UMBC next year -- was philosophical.
"I haven't really thought that much about it," she said. "I think we've had a great run, and I'm leaving the program in a really good place. Now it's time to give the younger players a chance."