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Rosary latest target of St. Francis’ success

Target set. Target hit.

For longtime St. Francis volleyball coach Peg Kopec, Wednesday’s 25-15, 25-15 score wasn’t that big a deal, but the “W” was.

“That’s 28 consecutive seasons of 30 wins or more. That’s the big stat for me,” said Kopec, who has been coaching the Spartans since 1974. “I’m pretty proud of that. It says a lot about the consistency of quality play that we’ve had. It’s exciting.”

The Spartans dispensed with a young Rosary team that had taken them to three sets in an earlier Suburban Christian Conference matchup, falling 23-25, 25-10, 25-20.

There was little doubt this time, as St. Francis (30-4, 8-0) put a damper on the Royals’ Senior Night proceedings.

Trailing 6-5 early on was as close as Rosary (19-17) got in the opening game, as the Spartans pulled away paced by the strong hitting of Clemson-bound Mary Boken and Nebraska recruit Molly Haggerty.

The 6-2 Boken had six of her match-high nine kills in the opener and Haggerty five of her eight.

Setter Daniele Messa (17 assists) got Kamryn Malloy (three kills) and Sarah Muisenga (three kills) more involved in the second game, which was tied at 13-all before the Spartans pulled away.

“We didn’t put as much pressure on them from the beginning as we did last time,” Rosary coach Rachel Hartmann said. “Last time we jumped on them right away. Maybe it was a little bit of a surprise. It took us longer to find our groove.

“(Senior Joanna) Wedge, my right side, we didn’t set her but once in the first game. We have to use our other hitters. The first game it was too obvious, we were setting outside and middle, outside and middle.

“It would have made for a different match.”

Wedge, who got going with all three of her kills and a pair of aces in the second game thought the team may have been too amped up.

“I think we were so energetic, we didn’t keep our calm,” she said. “We were so excited to go out and play and had all this built up energy inside. We had some secondary plays and matchups that didn’t need to happen.”

Sophomore outside hitter Erin Burke also had three kills for the Royals, who are the top seed in their five-team Class 3A regional that begins Monday.

“We can attack you from a lot of different places,” Kopec said. “I like it that Haggerty doesn’t have to carry us on her back.”