Down two players, Vancleave’s volleyball team survived St. Patrick on Tuesday 3-0 (25-15, 25-21, 25-19).
The Fighting Irish took leads of 10-3 in the first game and 10-4 in the second game before dropping back 2-0 to Bulldogs comebacks. In the first game, Carly Danley had three aces and a kill to give Vancleave (24-5) a one game lead with a 7-0 run to end the game. In the second game, freshman Payton McKerchie hit six aces to spark an 8-0 run, serving out the game.
Behind two McKerchie blocks for points, Vancleave took an early 8-4 lead in the third game only to see St. Patrick battle back behind three points each from Shannon Kirkpatrick and Rosalyn Lindsey to take a 12-11 lead. The two teams battled, with a Kirkpatrick kill tying the game at 18 each, before Vancleave closed with a 7-1 run behind a McKerchie kill and ace.
Bulldogs coach Haley Chatham said her team struggled without setter Paige Davis, who missed due to illness, and outside hitter Cheyenne Strickland, who missed due to a family emergency.
“We got through it,” Chatham said. “We had too many errors. We didn’t play our best volleyball, but the girls pulled together and we got the job done.”
Chatham said not having Davis and Strickland helped prepare the Bulldogs for the playoffs, which start Oct. 18.
“It was really different (playing without them),” said Chatham, who noted the Bulldogs have only one senior on their roster, Sarah Chappell. “We have a lot of young kids who can get the job done. At one time, I had five freshmen on the court.”
For Gail Trahan, whose Fighting Irish team is out of the playoffs, the game was a chance to get her young players a start. St. Patrick has only three seniors. Trahan said the Irish should be better with seven juniors on the team and four or five sophomores getting ready to contribute next year.
“We competed well against (Vancleave),” Trahan said. “They played well together and worked as a team.”
Trahan said the game allowed her to see the progress of her team this year. Earlier this year, the Bulldogs easily defeated St. Patrick at Vancleave.
“We played much better tonight,” Trahan said. “It’s been a very positive year. We’ve grown a lot as a team.”
McKerchie led the way for Vancleave with 10 kills, nine aces and five blocks. Danley added seven kills and three aces. Erin Daughtery, Sydney Salter, and Sierra Buxton had three kills and two aces each for the Bulldogs.
Kirkland paced the Irish with eight kills, two blocks for points, and an ace. Mary Tubb added four kills and an ace.