Mother McAuley claims Asics Challenge

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Mother McAuley didn’t just pass the 2014 Asics Challenge test, the Mighty Macs aced it.

From wicked dips to top spins to line drives to tantalizing bloops, they threw their whole arsenal of serves at Notre Dame (Kentucky) in Saturday’s 25-19, 25-17 championship match victory.

And that wasn’t all. The Mighty Macs were swinging with a vengeance, just like a team trying to end the program’s dry spell of Asics Challenge titles dating to 1998.

“We knew,” senior Maggie Scanlon said. “Coach Deej (Jen DeJarld) has pretty much embedded into us how much we want this. She’s let us know more than once.

“It’s been a long time. We wanted it.”

Ryann DeJarld (6 kills, 8 digs, 2 aces), Kelsey Clark (9 kills, 4 blocks), Kayla Caffey (7 kills, 2 blocks), Kennedy Arundel (6 kills, 8 digs, 2 aces), Carla Cahill (7 digs), Amber Casey (9 assists, 5 digs), Jane DeJarld (17 assists, 4 digs) and Scanlon (5 digs, 3 aces, 2 kills) were about as balanced as it gets for the Macs (22-3).

Notre Dame (19-4) was led by Morgan Hentz (10 kills), Abbey Thelen (6 kills), Alicia VonHandorf (13 digs), Hannah Colvin (10 digs) and Hannah Talkers (24 assists).

The Macs put both games, if not on ice, certainly in firm control with early serving streaks by Scanlon and Cahill.

Scanlon’s took place in Game 1, with McAuley leading 8-5. Her first attempt skirted off the arm of a Notre Dame defender, the next resulting in an unforced error on the return. Arundel provided two more points with back-to-back kills.

By the time Scanlon was finished it was 14-5.

“When you get back to the line focusing on your serve is really important,” Scanlon said. “It’s all about placement and tough serves.”

Cahill, McAuley’s first server in Game 2, didn’t leave until it was 11-1 Macs. There were no aces during that outburst, but a flurry of Clark attacks in the middle were good for five kills and a block.

“I just got there quick,” Clark said. “I was really excited. It just kind of hit me two (matches) ago, ‘Wow, this is the Asics Tournament, our last home tournament (for the seniors).’ It definitely motivated me, got me inspired to go out there and work hard.”

Earlier, McAuley ended Assumption’s three-year reign as champion with a 25-19, 25-17 victory in the semifinals. Arundel and Caffey had nine kills each, Cahill 13 digs and Casey 16 assists.

In the third-place match, Sacred Heart (Kentucky) defeated Assumption (Kentucky) 17-25, 25-20, 25-17. The fifth-place match went to St. Thomas (Florida) over St. Francis 22-25, 27-25, 25-20.

The Silver Division title was won by Marist, which defeated Sandburg 14-25, 25-19, 25-22.

Cameron Enright had 12 kills and four blocks, Emily Graff eight kills and three blocks, Allyssa Rizzo 17 digs and Lizzie Zaleski 26 assists for Marist (19-5).

Sandburg (19-5) got nine kills and three blocks from Leah Lane, 16 assists from Sami Knight and 28 digs from Morgan Kmak.

Joliet Catholic took third in the Bronze Division with a 25-19, 25-14 victory over Stagg.

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