September 2nd, 2016

Jaguars decisive in straight set win over ND

Block_screenshot 2018-10-06 at 2

Paul Najjar

Senior Writer

Jaguars decisive in straight set win over ND
Mercy senior setter Maddie Lentz delivers one of her 25 assists / photo by Holly Koval

There’s something to be said for familiarity within a team. The Mercy Jaguars volleyball success in the past decade-plus has been rooted in a never give up mentality and a positive approach to the game.

Those Mercy traits were on display Thursday night as the Jaguars rolled over the visiting Notre Dame Pandas 25-20, 25-16, 25-18.

New names and faces have dotted the Mercy (6-3) lineup last season and again in this one, but this year’s version has seemed to find itself in a better place.

“Tonight we just clicked really well,” Mercy senior middle blocker Neci Harris said. “We really are playing well and together right now. Our fast offense is working great. In mixing up the offense we’re opening up some areas to hit.”

Harris and her fellow seniors sat in the wings for two seasons as the 2013 and 2014 Mercy teams were loaded with national championship caliber talent. Last year they were called upon to contribute to a solid group of state champion veterans, but they couldn’t sustain excellence very long.

This win over a young, talented Notre Dame team may go a long way to help the Jaguars forge a stronger identity.

“We are focusing on us and what we need to do,” Mercy head coach Matt Thomerson said. “This team has come together early. They trust each other, knowing that they’ll be in the right position and be there for each other. They’re treating each other like they’re all in the same class, the older girls bringing up the younger ones.”

A relatively clean first set, Notre Dame (3-3) took its only lead at 10-9 and earned a tie score at 16-all. The Jags went on a 9-4 run to close it out.

“Focus on the game plan, execute the game plan and you hope that happens all the time,” Thomerson said. “Tonight we executed consistently through aggressive serving, and then putting the block in the right place. And our defense will get digs. If you trust in the process and share in the process then we’re going to gain confidence and get better.”

Three sophomore hitters have bolstered the Mercy attack with opposite Emma Schurfranz and outside hitters Jayme Scott and Lauren Myrick lifting the attack. Those three combined for 23 kills, three aces and two blocks; the rest of the team recorded 16 kills, six aces and five blocks.

“Those three are a huge asset to our team,” Harris said of the sophomore trio. “They bring a lot to our team. They work hard and they play hard and that’s what makes them great players. I’ve never been on a team with this much chemistry before.”

Senior setter Maddie Lentz is the primary floor general with sophomore Jenna Laemmle in support. Lentz is also its captain filling in for departed four-year starter Morgan Elmore.

“These past two weeks we’ve focused on limiting our mistakes and being as strong as we can on our side of the court,” Lentz said. “It’s been really clicking lately.”

Part of that clicking includes the 5-foot-10 Lentz getting the green light to attack more in her setter role. She stuffed the stat sheet with 25 assists, four kills, a block and an ace.

“I was an opposite until my sophomore year,” said the southpaw swinging Lentz. “So it’s great when I have a chance to hit. I like to still have that offensive presence on the court. It’s been a lot of fun working with this team and that helps everyone play their best.”

Notre Dame struggled to find consistency throughout the match. The Pandas came out aggressive in the second set and took a 5-1 lead, but the Jags peeled off a 14-5 run and then cruised to the nine-point win. Notre Dame was led by Lainey Stephenson's 13 kills.

Having to replace eight seniors from last year’s state runner up team including Miss Kentucky Volleyball Morgan Hentz, Notre Dame coach Buck McCoart has options at every position, though a little less experience than prior year’s teams.

“They dominated first contact and when they’re in system they run a great offense,” McCoart said of the Jaguars performance. “Coach Cal said it best: ‘we’re not losing; we’re learning.’ And we’re trying to find the right lineup, putting players in the right spots and keep learning from it.”

Up next for Mercy is a Saturday match in Indiana before a big match on the road against state No. 1 Assumption. 


Recent Articles