STEUBENVILLE - If for whatever reason the OVAC Volleyball Championship Tournament was played a few weeks ago, the result of the Class 1A final may have been different.
Madonna, the reigning champion, was just caught on a bad day.
"It was a long day," Blue Dons coach Jennifer Ewusiak said.
PHOTO BY MIKE PALMER
St. John’s Emily LeMasters goes up for a spike against the defense of Paden City’s Haley Hizer in a semifinal match.
With the OVAC regular-season title already ensured, Madonna entered the tournament at Big Red's Crimson Court with a 15-game winning streak.
It continued with a three-set victory agaisnt Trinity Christian in the semifinals.
"I told the girls to overcome the nerves of playing in a big tournament against a very good team," Trinity coach Jennifer Hefner said.
On Sept. 24, the Blue Dons beat the Warriors in two sets as part of three-team set with Wheeling Central.
"I thought we improved a lot since then," Hefner said.
Trinity collected eight-straight points in Game 1, overcoming an early four-point deficit, to win, 25-21. The Blue Dons had to fend off a five-point streak in Game 2 to but held on, 25-19, to force a deciding third game, which they won, 25-14.
Monica Bragg had 10 kills against the Warriors, while Amanda Paul tallied 16 digs. Chloe Conner added 18 assists, four points and three kills.
Emily Pietranton scored four aces, with seven digs.
Madonna could have used a time machine before taking on St. John in the championship match.
The Fighting Irish edged Paden City in three sets before taking on the defending champs.
"We weren't quite sure what to expect," St. John coach Carrie Ramsey said, "but they really stepped up to the plate."
Madonna fell in two sets, 25-17 and 25-22.
"Some of them were just getting their serves in," Ewusiak said. "There was not any movement. That was not one of the toughest teams we've come up against.
"Our blocks weren't very good. It was just a bad day."
Lindsey Froelic, a 6-foot-3, sophomore middle hitter, led the Irish with nine kills, while Caitlin Sliva had nine points and Sydney Helms tallied 11 assists.
"It was a total team effort," Ramsey, the first-year head coach, said. "They all kept their heads in the game and they all picked each other up when they needed to. They got the job done."
A six-point run to go up 13-5 paced the Irish (18-4) in Game 2. Sliva, a junior, created two points off broken plays and used the net to her advantage, catching Madonna defenders flat-footed.
"We needed that confidence," Ramsey said. "They know they can perform at this level and it's going to guide us.
"For the stage and what was at stake, yes," she added when asked if it was the best game the team has played all year. "At the beginning of the year, they would have fell apart."