September 21st, 2011

Valkyries Top Providence On Senior Night

Paul Najjar

CSN Staff Writer

Valkyries Top Providence On Senior Night
photo by Paul Najjar

SHA senior trio has big performance on special evening

For Sacred Heart Academy seniors Meredith Ashy, Connor Borgmeier and Megan Lipski Senior Night was a chance for the talented trio to shine. They did just that in a convincing 3-0 win (25-10, 25-14, 25-17) over visiting Providence (IN) high school to improve the team record to 20-5.

After a 4-3 start to the season, the Valkyries have won 17 of their past 19 matches. The team is playing with confidence and look to be peaking just at the right time.

“We’ve been firing on all cylinders in the past two weeks or so,” said Sacred Heart coach Eric Garvey. “It’s coming at the right time. It’s been fun to watch.”

The Valkyries returned from a successful weekend trip to Las Vegas where they won the Silver Division of the Durango Invitational. They went 6-1 over the weekend and defeated four California teams as they won their pool on Friday, and lost a close match for the right to compete in the championship bracket.

Borgmeier led the team Tuesday evening with 8 kills, 2 blocks and 5 aces. Her jump-serves were consistently tough to return, and earned the team some easy points.

“We started working on that in practice recently,” said Garvey. “She’s surprised us all, including herself and we’ll probably see more of that in the future.”

The senior outside hitter is on a roll with her serve. “I changed my serve about a week ago and I guess I just got good at it,” Borgmeier chuckled. “I’m just so happy to be with this team. I’m happy to just have the opportunity to play with such great teammates.”

Ashy has been moved from libero to setter and back to libero, but sees her role as doing whatever it takes to help the team win. “The team is working really well together right now,” explained Ashy. “Amy (setter Amy Evans) has been working really hard and she’s setting the ball so well right now. I do want to be in the back row because that’s what I’ll be playing in college, but if coach ever needs me to set I’ll do that.”

Both teams were swinging hard from the service line combining for 22 aces for the match. Borgmeier paced all players with five, while junior teammate Annie Adams smacked four. Providence freshman Patricia Mattingly served up four of her own and her freshman teammate Taylor Wilson had three.

“They (Providence) had some good serves,” said Ashy. “All we could do at times was just pop them up.”

The Pioneers coach, Terri Purichia, liked what she saw from her young squad playing a tough foe on the road on Senior Night. Each game was a little more competitive as the Pioneers got accustomed to the speed of the game.

“Sacred Heart is so good, such an experienced team with big hitters and big blockers, that the only way to get through them is to try to bust through them,” said Purichia. “If we didn’t serve hard, they made us eat it. So we just told them before the second set to swing for an ace every single time. Those two (Mattingly and Wilson) have pretty nice serves.”

Purichia saw some real positives to take away from this match for her inexperienced team.

“We have three freshmen and two sophomores in our starting lineup,” Purichia said. “You can’t teach 14 year olds to be 18. The speed of a team like Sacred Heart is difficult for veteran teams to handle. We’re just inexperienced and we’ll look at this game as a learning opportunity. If you look at the scores and how we’ve played, we got better from the first set to the third set and that’s all we can expect from them. I love their fighting spirit.”

While the Valkyries scrambled a bit to return some of those big serves, they didn’t have much trouble dominating the net with their size, speed and leaping ability. Junior Madison Wessling had six kills, with Lipski and sophomore Ashley Askin knocking down four apiece.

Lipski, a Buffalo commit, liked how the team came together to play their best volleyball of the season at the Durango Classic. She pointed to a critical moment in an early match in Las Vegas as something that can take the team to the next level.

“I think we’re really starting to click like we had hoped,” Lipski said. “There was one match that was a turning point for us (against Lakewood, CA). We won big in the first set, lost the second and we were down in the third set the entire time. But the last five points, we came together more as a team than we had all year to win it. I think we blew away our coaches and parents.”

Ashy echoed those sentiments: “That was the best we have ever played and we played our game. The defense was there, the passing was there, the hitters killed the ball.”

And Borgmeier: “We went out there to win the whole thing and we did really well. We toughed it out and won the Silver (bracket) and everyone played phenomenal ball.”

Whatever they did in Vegas, it doesn’t look like they left it there; it looks like they brought it back to Louisville with them.


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