(Cover photo credit: Conor Revell)
Presentation’s eighth-ranked volleyball team set a few goals at the start of the season and one of the goals was knock off one of the three powerhouses.
Mercy is one of those three dynamic programs and cruised past the host Toppers 25-14, 25-16, 25-19 Tuesday night.
“We didn’t focus so much on Pres as much as we have been focusing on ourselves,” Mercy head coach Matt Thomerson said. “We are going to play against a lot of teams this year and we know that a lot of them are going to be bigger at the net. For us, we have to focus on what we need to do and our style of play which play at a fast pace.”
Using their height advantage at the net, the Jaguars (5-3) delivered 38 kills while a much smaller Pres (5-2) team only recorded 23 kills.
Jayme Scott led the Jaguars with nine kills. Neci Harris and Maddie Lentz both delivered five kills, and Emma Schurfranz finished with three kills.
“For us, we have to be really disciplined on defense,” Mercy defensive specialist Lauren Tharp said. “We need to be able to get our stops. Coming in we knew that Pres likes to move the ball around a lot and they don’t hit hard. We just needed to stay disciplined.”
Senior Lauren Nunnelley led Pres with six kills while sophomore sensation Sophie Ball added five kills.
“They admitted tonight in the locker that they didn’t come out prepared,” Pres head coach Tom Sawyer said. “They were ready to go against Assumption but they weren’t tonight. I kind of wondered why and asked them that. But, they came out soft and they admitted it. They said it’s not a good feeling to lose like this and they feel like they can be more competitive. I just want them to know that if they don’t want this feeling then they’re going to have to work harder.”
The Toppers competed early in the three games but eventually faded away during the latter part of each set.
In the first game after five ties, Pres was tied with Mercy at five and then the Jaguars scored seven of the next eight points to take a 12-6 lead.
Pres battled back and cut it to two twice, the last time 14-12 before the Jaguars went on a 9-2 run to close the game.
“I just think we had to run some really fast plays,” Scott, an outside hitter for Mercy said. “We basically had to go over their blocks.”
Mercy and Pres grinded it out through nine ties in game two as the game was tied at eight. The Jaguars then scored six straight points to build a 14-8 advantage.
The Toppers never got any closer than four the rest of the way Mercy took a 2-0 lead in the match.
Pres stormed out of the gates in the third game and held a 5-1 lead. Mercy finally tied it at six apiece. With the scored tied at seven, Lauren Myrick delivered a kill and the Jaguars never trailed again as they would lead by as many as 10 points.
“For the start of each of the three games, you could tell that we were playing competitively,” Sawyer said. “We were playing to each point. But in the end we gave them too many runs. You can’t do that against a good team. We didn’t make enough runs ourselves. In the first two games we got beat pretty good but I think we were competitive in each of the first part of the match.”
Despite the disappointment, the Toppers still have one game left against second-ranked Sacred Heart to finish off their goal before trying to accomplish their second goal and that is to win the All “A” Classic Statewide championship for a second straight year.
Mercy turns its attention to fourth-ranked Notre Dame, a Ninth Region power from Northern Kentucky. The two will square off Thursday night.
“We’ve a lot of options but obviously we are still a young team,” Thomerson said. “If we can come together and they have so far, they’re meshing together really well so far. The biggest thing is we need to learn how to get meaner. When we get angry, I think we can beat anybody.”