WHEELING - Focus was the name of the game for Weirton Madonna on Tuesday afternoon as the Blue Dons needed to keep their attention on Bishop Donahue in the West Virginia Class A Region One, Section One volleyball semifinals before looking ahead to a possible huge matchup in today's finals.
That is exactly what Coach Jennifer Ewusiak's squad did, quickly taking the first two games before finally finishing off the feisty Bishops in the fourth.
Nicolette Sellitti and Monica Bragg controlled the net, combining for 31 kills and 28 attacks while Dylan Fenske did her part with 40 assists and a couple of impressive service runs as Madonna captured a four-set, 25-17, 25-16, 22-25, 25-15 victory against Bishop Donahue to advance to the sectional championship game at Wheeling Central's East Wheeling gym.
Weirton Madonna’s Kylan Fenske
prepares to serve during Tuesday’s sectional
volleyball match in Wheeling.
With the victory, the Blue Dons upped their record to a sparkling 28-3 heading into this afternoon's finals against another power, Magnolia, at 5 p.m. back in East Wheeling.
The Blue Eagles did their part by dispatching of the homestanding Maroon Knights later Tuesday.
''It is real nice to be moving on, but I think we were a little off (Tuesday)," Ewusiak said. "There are still a few things we need to work on, but we played well and hopefully we will just get better as the tournament goes on."
Madonna was in control early in the opening, leading by as many as four points, before Coach Don Chamberlain's Bishops (11-17) came to life and eventually took a 12-9 lead. However, Madonna was not going to go away easy and the Dons quickly rallied to reclaim the lead at 13-12 and never trailed again before gaining a 25-17 victory.
Game 2 was a little different in that Madonna led wire-to-wire, jumping to an early 5-1 advantage before the pesky Bishops pulled to within two points on three separate occasions, the last at 10-8, before the Blue Dons again pulled away late to set up a possible deciding game with a 25-16 victory.
But Chamberlain's girls were not ready to go away just yet, and after the teams battled back and forth early on, with four ties and a pair of lead changes, Donahue began assuming control. The biggest lead came at six, 21-15, but Madonna continued to battle and pulled to within 23-22 late before the game went to point and senior Katie Scott's recorded the final service tally for a 25-22 score.
It looked like the Dons were going to run away and hide in what turned out to be the final game of the match, jumping out quick and rolling to a 15-3 upper hand on seven Sellitti service points. But with the score 19-7, Beth Wolfe ran off seven of her own as all of a sudden the Marshall Countians were within 19-13, the closest they got the rest of the game.
''Bishop Donahue battled, but we worked hard the entire match and I am very proud of how the girls played," Ewusiak said. "And I will continue to be proud of them no matter how far we go, which if we play up to our potential could be far."
Chamberlain, meanwhile, was happy with how hard his girls battled as well, even in defeat.
"They are very tall and good up front and that hurts us," he said. "But they are such a good team and that shows with their record. Our girls battled back and got a victory in that third game, but we just didn't execute when we needed to in the others.
"We fell way behind in that fourth game, but again, we started coming back, it was just too little, too late."
W.Va. Class A Region One, Section One
(at Wheeling Central)
Weirton Madonna d. Bishop Donahue
25-17, 25-16, 22-25, 25-15
B - Guzek 4 kills, 5 aces; Fallova 7 assists.
W - Sellitti 16 kills, 19 attacks, 3 aces; Fenske 40 assists; Bragg 15 kills, 9 attacks; Paul 16 digs; Conner 9 assists.