Notre Dame Prep beats Spalding to win IAAM A Conference title
By By Mike Frainie
For The Baltimore Sun|
Nov 01, 2014 at 9:28 PM
Over the last two seasons, Notre Dame Prep has been the best regular-season team in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference. The Blazers have just been waiting for a championship crown.
Saturday night they finally earned it, but it certainly wasn't easy.
No. 6 Notre Dame Prep (15-0) was down two sets to none, but rallied to post a 23-25, 18-25, 25-23, 25-23, 15-9 victory over Archbishop Spalding in the A Conference championship at Roland Park.
The Blazers were led by Francesca Zink's 12 kills. Marisa DeLuca contributed 10 kills and six blocks.
"That's their way," said Notre Dame Prep coach Jim Isphording said of his team. "We played them during the regular season and fell behind [two sets to none], so I knew we could come back. I told them then that this was our year. Tonight, we proved that it was."
Spalding (14-7) did a great job early of keeping the Blazers on their heels. In the second set, the Cavaliers had a 21-8 lead, and some of NDP's wounds were self-inflicted. When the Cavaliers held on to win the set, 25-18, it looked like the Blazers would fall short of their goal.
Despite trailing in both the third and fourth sets, the NDP rallied to win both by identical 25-23 scores. The Blazers trailed by as many as five in the third set, and as many as six in the fourth set before rebounding.
The fifth set was all NDP. The Blazers took a 3-0 and then then 8-2 lead, and coasted to the 15-9 victory.
"We had six seniors on this team that saw us fall short of our goal last season," said Isphording, whose team was upset in the semifinals last year. "I just knew we wouldn't let that happen this year."
For Spalding, the loss was a case of running out of gas.
"They were the only team to have beaten us this year, and we were ready to dominate," said Stevens, a senior. "When we beat [A Conference team] St. Paul's a few weeks ago, it gave us all the confidence in the world.
"We thought we could beat anyone after that."
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The closest set of the match was the second. The Yellowjackets (13-4) played even with Roland Park early, tying the match 10-10 on a kill by Rachel del Carmen. From that point, the Reds got two kills each by Andrews and Stevens to outscore Chapelgate 7-2 and run their lead to 17-12. Chapelgate never really threatened after that point.
"Not too much has changed for us since last year," Roland Park coach Shawn Slater said. "These girls never wanted practice to end. As the season went on, they just got better and better. It's been a great journey for me."
In the C Conference championship, St.Timothy's (12-5) used 15 kills and two blocks by senior Alara Kocak to defeat Annapolis Area Christian, 26-24, 25-15, 25-10. Setters Hailey Dayton and Caitlin Mays contributed 12 and 10 assists, respectively.