December 24th, 2013

LCSN Top 10 Stories of 2013: No. 7 - Mercy wins five regional titles

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Conor Revell

Managing Editor


LCSN Top 10 Stories of 2013:  No. 7 - Mercy wins five regional titles
The Mercy cheerleading team won state

The Louisville Catholic Sports Network has chosen its top 10 stories of 2013. The series started with an honorable mention list Friday.  We will post a new story each day, with the exception of Christmas, until we release our top story of the year on Dec. 31. Here’s this year’s No. 7 story:

Winning a regional championship is never easy, but Mercy athletic teams managed to win five regional titles throughout the 2013 calendar year, including a state championship in cheerleading.

 

Along with their state cheerleading title, the Jaguars won regional crowns in basketball, softball, soccer and volleyball.

Basketball (March)

It all started when Mercy beat Butler in the final of the Sixth Region Tournament. The Jaguars went on to play in the state tournament but lost to Manual in the first round.

“I’m proud of my kids,” head coach Mark Evans said after the loss to Manual. “I’ve told my kids that this is not a job, it’s a love of mine. I have been to a lot of regional finals, but I have only been to State six times.

“I have a tremendous bunch of kids. They never stopped fighting today, but we just didn’t get the breaks that we needed. I’m just happy the kids got here to experience this.”

All this happened after Mercy lost star forward Victoria Dircksen to injury and went on to lose six of its next seven games. However, the Jaguars rebounded and regained their toughness by winning nine out of their last 11.

This was a fitting end for the senior-laden squad. Whitney Hartlage, Morgan Doherty, Kayla Richardson, Mackenzie Stilger and Dircksen led Mercy to 98 wins over their four years.

Softball (June)

Mercy started the season with hopes and dreams of winning a second straight state title. With players such as Jordan Vorbrink, Erika Downey, Morgan Meyer, Haley Twyman, Tori Lasley and Aubrey Meiners returning from the state championship team, the Jaguars knew they had a shot.

And they came pretty close, winning the Sixth Region Tournament, only to lose to Greenwood and Owensboro Catholic at the state tournament  before settling for a third-place finish.

“After winning a state championship, we knew that anything less than winning it all would be a little disappointing,” head coach Greg Vorbrink said. “But the year in general isn’t disappointing after today’s loss. It’s the truth that we were one of only 16 schools here.”

Mercy finished the season with a 36-9 record, including 11-0 in a tough Sixth Region that featured strong squads from Bullitt East, Holy Cross and Butler.

But it wasn’t always easy for the Jaguars. Mercy had to beat Bullitt East in 12 innings to win the district championship, and it took 12 innings to beat Owensboro Catholic in the winners’ bracket semifinals.

Greenwood went on to beat Mercy in the winners’ bracket championship game before Owensboro Catholic got revenge by knocking the Jaguars out in the consolation bracket final to advance to the state title game.

Soccer (October)

Before 2012, Mercy’s soccer program had never won a regional championship. But in 2013, the Jaguars won their second straight Sixth Region title.

They accomplished this despite finishing the regular season with an 8-13 record.

Mercy started a great postseason run by beating Whitfield Academy and Bullitt East to win the district title. In the regional tournament, the Jaguars defeated Pleasure Ridge Park and Bullitt Central with ease.

Then came the championship game. It’s never easy to beat the same team three times in one season, but the Jaguars did just that when Sydney Oates scored the game-winning goal in the second overtime for a 2-1 victory over Bullitt East.

“They are definitely our biggest rival in the region,” Mercy head coach Mariah Gratz said. “Playing them three times a year, every year, is definitely a lot and tough.”

Sacred Heart ended Mercy’s season with an 8-1 victory in state sub-sectionals.

Volleyball (November)

Mercy was ranked among the top 20 teams in the nation by prepvolleyball.com, but that all changed during the Jaguars' run to the LIVT championship in early September.

Led by senior outside hitter Courtney Crable and the superb play of junior outside hitter Meridith Jewell and junior middle blocker Lexi Hamrick, the Jaguars defeated the nation's No. 2-ranked team, Mother McAuley from Chicago in straight sets and then No. 19-ranked Notre Dame Academy in the championship.

“I’m so proud of the girls. They played their hearts out,” Crable said. “We didn’t get what we wanted, but I couldn’t have asked for a better senior year. I can’t think of anything more that we could have done (to win the match). We put our hearts into that game and that’s all we can do. I’m so thankful and never could have imagined four years ago being so close to a group of girls like this.”

And while they were winning, former No. 1 Assumption dropped a couple of hotly contested matches to both Notre Dame and Mother McAuley. The results of this tournament and a 3-1 win over Assumption just three days later propelled Mercy to the No. 1 spot in the country, where they remained for the next five weeks.

The Jaguars relinquished their top ranking after a 3-1 loss at Assumption in October. These two teams met again in the state semifinals and gave the packed house at Valley high school a two hour and ten minute, five set, top notch thriller of a game that the Rockets ultimately won.

“Our girls played their hearts out and I’m so proud of them,” Mercy head coach Todd Garvey said. “It was a great match. They played fantastic; we played fantastic and came up just a couple of points short. Really proud of how hard the girls battled.”

Cheerleading (December) – State Champions

Mercy came home with the state championship in the Medium Division at the KHSAA State Competitive Cheerleading Championships at the Kentucky Horse Park’s Alltech Arena in Lexington.

Representing Region 6, the Jaguars faced the champions from the other 15 regions and took top honors with a score of 278.4.

“As a coach, this is a level I have dreamed about getting these ladies to,” head coach Deidre Mackin said. “With their level of commitment and talent, I knew it was just a matter of putting the pieces together and getting them prepared both mentally and physically.”

This was Mercy’s first cheerleading state championship and its second straight trip to the state tournament.

 

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