Rosary spent four days working out the kinks following last week’s disheartening home loss to Montini.
The renewed focus on fundamentals and teamwork paid off Monday as the host Royals rallied for a 15-25, 25-17, 25-19 victory over IC Catholic Prep in Aurora.
“[The Montini loss] was a learning experience,” Rosary setter Brooklyn Martner said. “We got to practice and realized we really need to work hard.
“We can’t just slack off and win, so we really worked hard at practice and it paid off. First game was a little shaky but we pulled it together and came out with a win.”
It was far from easy. The Knights (5-5) captured the opener with a finishing 14-3 run, with sophomore Tess Reardon spiking four of her seven kills as IC Prep took apart Rosary’s serve-receive during an eight-point run on Claudia Koch’s serve.
IC had early leads in both Game 2 and Game 3, but the Royals (5-6) answered each time with libero Martha Konovodoff at the service stripe.
Konovodoff served five straight points, including two aces, to give Rosary the lead for good in Game 2 and had three in a row to do the same thing in Game 3. She and Domenique Voelsch also stabilized the defense by combining for 29 digs.
“We’ve got a pretty deep bench, so if things start to go wrong one way or another, there are girls that can come in and play confidently,” Rosary coach Rachel Hartmann said. “I think Dom is one of those girls that can stabilize our serve-receive if our outsides have trouble.”
With the back line solid and the blockers blunting IC’s attack, Martner started focusing on picking apart the Knights’ defense. The junior dished 25 of her 30 assists in the final two games.
“She did a great job distributing the ball, so she was making sure everyone was in the best situation possible instead of setting the easy ball,” Hartmann said. “It was, ‘who’s my best lineup right now, where is the block,’ so she’s thinking about the whole game, not just what she needs to do but what the other side is doing.”
Seven hitters had kills over the final 26 points for Rosary. Michaela Ping and Molly Curley finished with seven apiece, while Meegan Hart had five and Joanna Wedge four. Martner added three kills, as did sophomore Erin Burke, who landed the clincher.
“I can depend on all my players,” Martner said. “I know they’ll do their job, so it doesn’t matter who I set, I know they’ll put the ball away.
“I couldn’t have done it without the passing. [My teammates] really helped out. They pulled it together and they made my job look easy.”
Reardon had eight kills and Frannie Cervone four kills and 15 assists for IC, which returns five starters from last year’s Class 2A state championship team, though Koch is the only one playing the same position.
“Our goal for this match was to come out, establish ourselves early, take control, execute our game plan and I thought we did that really well,” IC coach Nancy D’Amore said. “Now we need to be able to sustain that during an entire match.
“I think that we kind of sat back on our heels, but you’ve got to hand it to them. They started doing some really nice things and we just didn’t respond.”