JACKSON – What more can you ask from a group as determined as the Notre Dame Titans are?
Titans coach Cassidy Roney is trying to pull out that extra 10% effort, as any coach should do, but after Thursday’s straight set sweep (25-21, 25-17, 25-14) over Trimble to advance Notre Dame to Saturday’s Division IV Jackson #2 district final vs. Southern, four set winners over Peebles, Thursday, there may not be any extra effort to give on behalf of the Titans players.
“I think out of all the games we’ve played this season, this is maybe the most I’ve seen them focused,” Roney said following the Titans district semifinal win over Trimble. “They came out ready to play, and ready to win. They always come out ready to win, but today it felt like they were all business. You could tell they wanted to win.”
Notre Dame was rejoined by first team All-SOC senior hitter Taylor Schmidt in Thursday’s district semifinal win after Schmidt was forced to sit out of their sectional final win over Paint Valley when she injured her ankle during pre-game warm ups. In Thursday’s win, Schmidt was more than herself in opportunities at the net.
“We kind of eased her back into practice this week, our trainer was working with her all week,” Roney said. “Yesterday was the first day she went all out in practice. Just judging her today, I wouldn’t have been able to tell she was hurt. She played normal, played with her usual intensity, and it was great for us.”
In the win, Schmidt finished with eight kills and nine digs.
Senior Sophia Hassel and junior Claire Dettwiller led the Titans offensive attack with nine kills apiece. Hassel also had an extremely good game at the service line with six aces in 28 service attempts while also finishing with 18 digs on the defensive end. Dettwiller finished with two blocks in Thursday’s game, one assisted and one solo.
Senior libero Joyce Zheng tied Hassel’s team high in digs with 18 of her own while junior Ava Hassel contributed 14 digs on the defensive end.
Senior setter Cassie Schaefer led the Titans with a team high 19 assists while also getting four kills on the offensive end.
Notre Dame advances to Saturday’s Division IV Jackson #2 District Final vs. Southern, four set winners over Peebles following the end of the Titans win.
It’s a win that would be a stamp on the careers of seniors Cassie Schaefer, Sophia Hassel, Taylor Schmidt, Olivia Smith, Paetyn Collins, and Joyce Zheng for the simple fact that if the Titans walk away winners, it would be the program’s fourth straight district title, one for each of the years these six were in high school.
District final wins over Paint Valley in 2018, Federal Hocking in 2017, and Southern in 2016 have paved the way for Saturday’s shot at four straight district titles for one of southern Ohio’s premier volleyball programs.
For that to happen, however, Roney says there are still some things she’d like to see her team improve on before Saturday’s win-or-go-home game.
“One thing we’re definitely going to work on is serve-receive,” Roney said. “We struggled with that at times today, but we’re confident it’s something that can be fixed. Saturday, we’ve got to come in like we did today: focused, strong. If we have a start like we did today, we’ll be right there at the end.”
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved