PORTSMOUTH — It’s getting to be late September, which means two things for the Notre Dame Lady Titans.
The first being, as Rod Stewart once sang, they really should be back at school —which they are.
The second being, with only Green remaining in the first swing through the Southern Ohio Conference’s double round-robin rotation, the Lady Titans are halfway home to another SOC I volleyball championship.
On Thursday, they took their fifth perfect step towards that title —sweeping visiting New Boston 25-18, 25-19 and 25-12.
The Lady Titans are now 5-0 in the SOC I, part of 7-2 — as their only losses are against undefeated SOC II leader South Webster and Scioto Valley Conference stronghold Huntington.
Against New Boston, which fell to 5-5, the Titans took the opening two sets in similar fashion — breaking free from the Tigers’ clutches by the middle of the set but still needing to halt a late New Boston rally.
In the second set, the Tigers actually led as late as 10-9 — and trailed by as few as four points (17-13 and 23-19) twice, before the Titans turned the volume back up and finished the games off.
In the third game, however, the Tigers’ only advantage was at 1-0, as the set stood tied twice at 1-1 and 5-5 —before Notre Dame dominated from an 8-7 lead by scoring 17 of the set’s final 22 points.
There was no New Boston bit-by-bit, inch-by-inch comeback in the third set, as a serve return landed long and clinched the contest for the Titans.
And, in exactly an hour of actual match time.
In all, and despite Notre Dame seeming to start slow through the first 15 to 25 points of each game, the Titans took control when it mattered most.
“We kind of started out slow and then we would pick it up, then it seemed like once we got it to 20 points, we let up again. We have a habit of doing that once we get a decent lead or we get comfortable and relaxed. The first two sets tonight, once we got to 23 (points), we let them score six or seven points after that, just because we get relaxed. It is something we need to work on for sure,” said NDHS coach Cassidy Roney.
While that could impact Notre Dame during say the Division IV district tournament, it wasn’t worrisome becoming panic on Thursday.
Notre Dame dominated in hitting, and had four players post double-digits in kills.
Claire Dettwiller —the six-foot senior middle hitter —delivered a team-high 11 kills while fellow seniors Chloe Delabar and Ava Hassel and younger sister Annie Dettwiller had 10 apiece.
Hassel had a dozen assists from her setter spot, as Annie Dettwiller set for nine in the Titans’ two-setter offensive attack.
“The offense was very balanced tonight with both of our outside hitters and both of our middle hitters having double-digit kills. Our passing is usually our biggest struggle, but this game we did really well. We have a lot of tall girls and hitters this year, but we only have two players that are solely back-row players. That’s a huge difference from last year, where last year we had tons of back-row players and not many hitters,” said Roney. “Then our setters were doing a good job of getting the ball to everyone today.”
Hassel served up six aces and Annie Dettwiller five, as libero Mallory Boland’s back-to-back aces in the second set made it 17-12.
Defensively, Hassel had 13 digs to lead the way while Boland with nine, Claire Dettwiller with eight and Annie Dettwiller with six also contributed.
The other middle hitter, Delabar, recorded two blocks while Claire Dettwiller and Gracie Ashley added one apiece.
Hassel, Delabar and Claire Dettwiller are the Titans’ only seniors, and are easily their most experienced players.
Roney explained that there has been a degree of a learning curve for her club.
“We have a lot of younger girls. Two freshmen are in the starting rotation and then three are sophomores who didn’t play varsity last year,” she said. “Everyone has just needed to learn to play together and work together. With every game, we just get better because they are getting more experience and learning to play and work together as a team.”
As far as the SOC I is concerned, they are doing just that — as the calendar turns to late September and they really are back at school.
The Titans’ next opportunity for growth comes against undefeated and SVC leader Adena on Saturday.
New Boston was spearheaded on Thursday by Shelby Easter’s match-high 14 kills and Jadelyn Lawson’s nine assists, as Kenzie Whitley and Ragen Helpinestine had a half-dozen digs apiece.
The Tigers return to action on Tuesday, and return to SOC I competition, when they welcome Western.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved