Salesian’s girls volleyball coach Katie Fay knows her team tends to get off to slow starts so when it happened against St. Mary’s on Monday she may have taken it in stride.
Down 20-10 in the first game, Salesian made it respectable and lost it 25-19.
The match was a different story.
The Pride pulled out a 19-25, 25-16, 25-23, 24-26, 15-11 upset win over the visiting Panthers, who entered as the defending Bay Shore Athletic League champions three years running and with superstar outside hitter Tarah Murrey.
“We just didn’t play our game,” said first year St. Mary’s coach Cassie Aschinger.
Fay, on the other hand, knew she had no reason to worry.
“We really battled back and that gave us a lot of confidence,” Fay said. “(St. Mary’s) looked like they were getting more frustrated with us.”
…. On a quick side note: How big a deal was this for Salesian? Well, Mondays are usually slow days for our prep staff, so we tend to be out of the office by 7:30-8 p.m. But that didn’t stop Salesian basketball coach Bill Mellis from calling Times reporter Robert Jordan on his cell phone to make sure the result got in the paper. It did, so credit the assist to Mellis and the slam dunk to Jordan. Ok, back to the story ….
The Panthers were playing without Genny Pezzola – a starting outside hitter and setter this season – because of an ankle injury and it apparently threw them off mentally to be missing one of their seniors and leaders. But the Panthers still had Murrey, the best player in the area, so no excuses.
“You can’t neutralize (Murrey),” Fay said. “We tried to be aggressive and keep the ball out of her hands as much as possible. Our defense really played well. We didn’t let her get to us. We said ‘Ok we’ll let you get your kills but we’ll wear you down in other areas’ because she can’t do it all.”
Fay said two of her starters – a middle blocker and a setter were out with injuries – but that wasn’t a problem as back up setter Rachel Mandariao came in and handled the job just fine to finish with 33 assists.
“We have been playing so well this year,” said Fay, whose team’s average height is about 5-foot-7. “This year’s group of players aren’t great in one area but they are well-balanced in all areas.”
Devan Wong chipped in with 20 digs, Malina Terrell had 15 kills, seven blocks and two aces and Taylor Melton contributed with five digs, three kills, two blocks for the Pride. With the win, Salesian is now 11-1 overall and 2-0 in the BSAL.
– Ricardo Sanchez Jr.