PORTSMOUTH — For the Notre Dame Titans, this volleyball season has surely been about their latest senior circuit.
And, on Senior Night on Thursday, those three Lady Titan seniors spearheaded Notre Dame to another Southern Ohio Conference Division I victory.
In fact, Notre Dame swept the visiting Green Bobcats 25-12 25-20 and 25-20 to remain undefeated in the division at a perfect 11-0 (13-4 overall)—part of now back-to-back perfect league campaigns.
Of course, that is assuming they defeat East in a makeup matchup, which has yet to be rescheduled after being recently postponed —as the Titans will be heavy favorites for another three-set sweep.
On Wednesday, Notre Dame completed its season sweep of Symmes Valley —thus clinching its sixth consecutive conference championship, and part of seven total with another in 2005.
On Thursday, seniors Chloe Delabar, Claire Detwiller and Ava Hassel had their games going against Green — as they cruised through the opening game, withstood a big time Bobcat comeback in the second, and finally exited to a standing ovation after a 10-point advantage in the third.
Notre Dame coach Cassidy Roney said her senior trio took the leadership torch from last season’s half dozen —and ran with it all the way to another SOC I championship.
“Our seniors are the only ones on the team this year that had any varsity experience coming in. They have been really good leaders for us after losing six seniors from last year. These three had some really big shoes to step in and fill this season. All three help me out tremendously on and off the court,” said Roney. “They always know what they need to do and somehow know what everyone else is supposed to be doing. It’s just a really great group of girls to have for a senior class.”
The three were all substituted for with the Titans taking a two-sets-to-none lead —and owning a 24-14 advantage in the final game.
“I was glad that it worked out for them that they were able to come out for that last point,” said Roney.
They almost had to re-enter, as the Bobcats didn’t go away quietly —scoring six straight points to get within 24-20 before a service error ended it.
Delabar and Detwiller dialed up for a match-high 14 kills apiece, as Green garnered that many (14) as an entire team.
Detwiller served up 20 points and had half as many digs, as Delabar made four blocks with Dettwiller recording two.
Hassel set for 19 assists, dug up 10 returns, and collected a half-dozen kills.
Her kill concluded the second game with the first 25-20 tally, as Delabar — with the Titans leading 21-20 —delivered three straight smashes, including a well-placed cross-courter that had Notre Dame’s gymnasium all fired up.
The Bobcats actually erased an 11-2 second-set deficit in which Notre Dame erupted for 10 consecutive points, clawing back for one-point leads of 18-17 and 19-18 — and ties of 17-17, 18-18 and 19-19 after being tied 1-1 and leading 2-1.
In the third game, Green led 1-0 before the only ties of 1-1 and 4-4, as the Titans took an 18-14 lead before ballooning it to 10 (24-14) — following two kills apiece from Detwiller and Delabar, a block by Delabar and a Bobcat hitting error.
Roney praised her squad for not succumbing to the Bobcats’ comeback, while Green coach Madi Gaffney said she was proud of her club for constantly coming back.
The Titans took the second set by scoring seven of the final eight points.
“This group of seniors is really good at not buckling under pressure. When the games get close like that, and the more pressure we’re under, the better they play. They can get us out of games like that,” said Roney. “Whenever we get into a serving rut, we know if we set one of our seniors, they are going to get a kill and get us out of the rotation that we’re stuck in.”
“We’ve worked all season on just being consistent, not giving up and fighting back. That’s exactly what they did tonight. I couldn’t ask any more out of my team than that,”said Gaffney. “If we play like that Monday, we’ll be successful.”
The Bobcats got behind the eight-ball in the opening game — despite leading 2-1 and 3-2 with ties of 1-1, 2-2 and 3-3.
A Delabar kill put the Titans in front 4-3 and they never looked back —only extending the advantage until the 25-12 final.
Notre Dame libero Mallory Boland boasted a dozen digs, as Annie Detwiller amounted eight kills, seven digs and seven service points.
She also set for the other 18 assists aside from Hassel.
For the Bobcats, which fell to 6-11 and ended up 4-8 in the SOC I, senior standout hitter Kame Sweeney had eight kills and both of the team’s blocks —as Alex Smith set for 10 of the team’s 13 assists.
Marissa Boza, who had the other three assists, added two aces —as fellow senior Sydnie Gallion served up three.
Ava Jenkins with six and Sweeney with five led the way in digs.
The Bobcats return home, and open Division IV sectional tournament play, by hosting Belpre for a semifinal match on Monday.
Green is the eighth seed and the Golden Eagles — out of the Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division — the ninth seed, with the winner traveling to face top-seeded South Webster for the sectional championship tilt next Thursday.
Gaffney said seeing the Titans this close to the tournament provided a good warm-up.
“I think this was a good match to have before our tournament game. But Monday, we still need to come ready to play,” she said.
Speaking of ready to play, Roney reminded her charges about 13th-seeded South Gallia — whom the fourth-seeded Titans take on for a Division IV sectional title.
The Rebels are also members of the TVC-Hocking, as they split with Symmes Valley —the only common opponent between the two.
“It’s a game we have to take seriously. South Gallia has played a lot of good teams, so their seed and their record doesn’t always mean anything,” said Roney.
But look for Notre Dame’s seniors to surely be ready —as their final volleyball postseason begins.
Match time is set for 6 p.m. on Thursday at Notre Dame High School.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved