St. Francis holds off upset-minded Montini

SHARE St. Francis holds off upset-minded Montini

Peg Kopec was really impressed with the performance of some of the students at the St. Francis volleyball match Wednesday against visiting Montini.

“The band was great,” she said. “The band was outstanding.”

The veteran coach was not as impressed with her team, which had to fight off six set points in Game 1 before putting away their Suburban Christian Conference foe, 28-26, 25-15.

“Less than smooth,” Kopec said. “A little chaotic. We didn’t have good ball control in the first game. The second game was better. We showed glimpses of how we should play. We shouldn’t have to depend on Molly (Haggerty) that much.”

Haggerty had 11 kills and two blocks to lead the No. 2 Spartans (14-1, 3-0), who trailed 24-20 in Game 1 before embarking on a four-point run capped by a kill from 6-foot-2 middle blocker Mary Boken (seven kills, block).

Montini (11-8, 2-1) regained the lead at 25-24 and 26-25 on a pair of St. Francis errors, but could not close out the set. Blocks by Sarah Muisenga and Haggerty gave the Spartans a 27-26 lead, then two Broncos allowed a ball to hit the floor between them on set point.

“We made two little errors at the end of that game that cost us,” Montini coach Steve Dowjotas said. “We have a young setter (junior Gina Cappetta) running a 5-1 for the first time. But every day, she’s growing more and getting better. Every day we’re talking about what to do, when to do it and how to do it.

“Honestly, it was that 4-point run that we gave up that put us in that situation. But I’m proud of the way we played, the way we competed. They’re a powerhouse. The fact that we can compete with that, that we can stand up to it, gives us belief. Belief that we can is what we need.”

St. Francis broke a 7-7 tie in Game 2 with a 9-1 run. Montini never got closer than six points the rest of the way.

“I think we take advantage of us having a talented team and think we’re going to breeze through these teams,” Haggerty said. “I think we need to come out every day with the mentality to play well, not just because we have to, but because we want to.”

Daniele Messa added 23 assists for St. Francis, which also got six kills and two blocks from Kamryn Malloy. Monica Loftus paced Montini with nine kills and two blocks, Mary Bowe added six kills and Cappetta had 13 assists and an ace.

“Loftus hurt her shoulder in practice last night, and for her to gut it out today, she’s going to get a well-deserved rest for the next two weeks while we’re off,” Dowjotas said.

Meanwhile, St. Francis will compete at the Rich East Tournament this weekend with Mother McAuley and Lyons. McAuley has already beaten the Spartans once this season.

“Our three losses last year were all to McAuley,” Haggerty said. “Whether we play them or not this weekend, we just want to win that tournament. We’re a very competitive team and we want to win.”

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