There’s something about Assumption (Louisville, Kentucky) that brings out the worst in teams from Illinois.“They’re a great team, but their name, Assumption, kind of got to us,” St. Francis juniorMolly Haggerty said. “The same with Mother McAuley whenever we play them. So yeah, I think some of that had to do with nerves.”Assumption, ranked No. 2 in the nation by Prepvolleyball.com, made a stop at St. Francis on Thursday ahead of the Asics Challenge this weekend at Mother McAuley. Assumption has won the Asics Challenge three years running.From the looks of things Thursday, the Rockets are ready to make it four in a row.Miranda Elpers had six kills, sophomore Ana Crockett added five kills and junior setter Shelby Olson had 22 assists and four digs as Assumption stymied St. Francis, the top seed at the Asics Challenge, 25-23, 25-14.Haggerty led St. Francis (22-2) with 12 kills and Mary Boken added five kills and a block, but the Spartans were also guilty of 12 errors in Game 1 and eight more in Game 2.“It took us awhile to get comfortable in Game 1, and by the time we did it was too late,” Haggerty said. “In that last set they played great. They got comfortable with us and we didn’t get comfortable with them. They started running more things that we didn’t see in the first set.”Kamryn Malloy had her only kill of the first game and Haggerty added two more as the Spartans overcame a 22-17 deficit to tie the set at 22-22. But St. Francis followed with back-to-back hitting errors to hand the Rockets the first game.“We’re the hardest on ourselves in those situations,” Haggerty said. “When it’s getting close, we have to be more mentally tough. They also hit well and we didn’t really block too many balls. We made it hard for our defense.”After trailing 6-2 early in Game 2, a Haggerty kill got St. Francis within 8-7. But Assumption (23-2) answered with an 11-2 run to put the game and the match out of reach.“The first game was fine,” St. Francis coach Peg Kopec said. “I thought we could have taken it. But you can’t have much of a bad game or a bad set against a team like that. You have to have your full complement playing well. We kind of mixed and matched a little bit in that second game.”
Things got so out of hand in the second set that Assumption libero Kenzie Maloney was credited with two kills when she dug a pair of Haggerty blasts and returned them over the net for winners.
“I did not like those,” Haggerty said.“It’s been our forte to play defense and hope the offense shows up,” Assumption coach Ron Kordes said. “I thought we touched a lot of balls. We didn’t really necessarily stuff block a lot, but we were touching and slowing down… except for Haggerty. One of them went through our defensive player and almost took my head off.”