PORTSMOUTH — Simply put, when it comes to Division IV sectional championship volleyball matches, it’s now officially been a Notre Dame decade of dominance.
In fact, it’s a perfect 10 to be precise.
That’s because the second-seeded Titans — to the tune of a 25-17, 25-8 and 25-11 and full 50-minute sweep on Wednesday evening of the visiting and seventh-seeded Symmes Valley Vikings—amassed their 10th consecutive sectional championship, and the first as head coach for former NDHS standout Katie Dettwiller.
The towering Titan Dettwiller, standing six feet and four inches tall, won four sectional titles as a player —followed then by her sister Claire Dettwiller, and now sister Annie Dettwiller winning her fourth and final.
With the victory, Notre Dame raised its record to a stellar 20-4 —winning two sectional matches and following being better by the dozen in the Southern Ohio Conference Division I, as the Titans took their eighth consecutive SOC I championship.
At the sectional level, perhaps even more impressive than the 10 times over crowns in a row is their two-decades long longevity —as Wednesday’s win was actually their 13th sectional championship in 14 years, following three straight sectionals from 2003 thru 2005.
Before the title 20 years back, which was the foundation for this success high atop Sunrise Avenue, Notre Dame’s only other volleyball sectional title came clear back 35 years ago.
For those into counting, in the past two decades, the only years in which Notre Dame didn’t win a sectional was a three-year stretch from 2006 thru 2008, and again in 2012.
Fast forward 10 years later, and Coach Dettwiller talked about the Titans times 10 since.
“We’re very proud of these girls and the work they’ve put in all season,” she said. “It’s the same feeling as a coach and player. You feel it when you’re a player, and you want it even more for your players when you are the head coach. So it’s the same feelings altogether. The hard work shows off in championship matches when you get to that point. We’re proud to continue to the legacy of this program and we’re proud to keep it going for future generations.”
But, Wednesday was the here and now for the Titans of 2022 —as they swept Symmes Valley in the regular season as part of their perfect trek through the SOC I.
In the third meeting, the Vikings led 1-0 in the opening set for their only lead —as there were two ties at 1-1 and 2-2 before the Titans turned the tide decisively, with offensive kills and Viking errors abound.
Notre Dame did stake a 21-7 advantage, and although the Vikings reeled off eight consecutive points, the Titans took four of the final six for the 25-17 set one win.
In the second set, Notre Dame scored the opening six points — with senior libero Mallory Boland serving for three straight aces.
A lift violation by the Titans reduced their lead to 16-8, but then they roared back with the final nine points —including a block-kill by Katie Strickland, two Bree Hicks kills, three Gwen Sparks kills, two Viking errors, and another Boland ace to end it.
In the third set, there were ties of 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6 and 7-7 —as Symmes Valley did lead by 3-2 and 5-4 counts.
Back-to-back kills by Entler and Gracie Ashley put the Titans in front 6-5, as they outscored the Vikings —from the final tie of 7-7 —by a emphatic count of 18-4 from there.
“Symmes Valley is a very talented team that hustles and plays hard. They are going to make you fight for everything that you earn. In that first set, we had a lot of mental errors and a lot of mistakes on ourselves. We had to fix them, but we knew how to fix them, we work on that in practice every single day. The girls just had to refocus and regather themselves and get back and get the job done,” said Coach Dettwiller. “They did in the second and third sets.”
From the 7-7 third-set tie, Annie Dettwiller first gained a sideout on a kill —before serving for 11 consecutive points.
That made it 19-7, as their largest leads of the third game were 22-8 and 25-11.
With that, it was quickly team picture time —and Notre Dame did in fact make all in attendance aware, with every player holding up all 10 fingers.
The wealth was spread on the Titans’ stat sheets, as the sophomore Entler set for 37 assists —and tallied two total blocks, two kills, three aces and five digs.
Seven total Titans played, as Hicks hammered home 18 kills —and defensively dug up 10 balls with four total blocks.
Notre Dame’s defense resulted in four double-digit diggers — Boland with a team-high 19, Ashley with 15, Dettwiller with 12, and Hicks with 10.
Boland served for four aces and Dettwiller three, as the 6-2 junior Sparks (12 kills and three total blocks), Ashley (six kills and one block) and Strickland (five kills and fur total blocks) all joined the net fun for at least five kills and one block.
“These girls know what their roles are and they execute them every single night. They contribute so much to the game in different ways,” said the coach. “Whether it’s attacking, playing defense, needing to serve for us, they know what to do and they know how to execute. That’s what makes us who we are and what we do. Everybody takes advantage of their role and plays it to the best of their abilities.”
And, what the Titans indeed are —as of Wednesday night —10 times consecutive sectional champions.
Notre Dame advanced to play the third-seeded Southern Tornadoes —in a Division IV district semifinal on Wednesday night at Wellston High School.
Prior to the past two seasons, Notre Dame had won four district championships in five years —sans 2015.