The Mid-South Conference (MSC) is considered to be the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ (NAIA) premier conference in every sport and Tuesday night the St. Catharine Volleyball Patriots proved that they belonged.
Coming into Tuesday night’s conference opener the Patriots were at a mark of 3-2, but led the NAIA in blocks and blocks per game with junior Allie Southard (Louisville, KY) leading the team and the NAIA with 41 total blocks (solo blocks and block assists combined) over the five games. St. Catharine looked to continue their defensive trend when the Bluefield College Rams rolled into town and were able to do just that.
During the first set the Patriots jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. Sparked by a crowd arousing block from junior Casey Stone (Princeton, KY), the Patriots went on a 5-0 run to end the set winning by a score of 25-12. “Our front line has been huge for us in the past few games” says Patriot coach Jason McDannold. “Our ability to read attacks has been putting us in a good position to block balls that would have hurt us in the past.” Game two resulted in a similar score, 25-13, but was the offensive showcase for the night. Sparked by 2 early service aces by sophomore Rebecca Just (Louisville, KY), the Patriots front row took over. “That was the set that got the crowd on their feet and showed them who we can be” says McDannold. “When our hitters unload, we can be a handful and exciting to watch.” Free swinging kills by Shauna Stone (Bardstown, KY), Allie Southard, and Cat Hall (Louisville, KY), set the pace for the Patriots to cruise to win number two. Even with the offense clicking, McDannold is still very adamant that his defensive back row really allows his hitters to get a good assist from the setters. “Jodie [Klein] (Louisville, KY) was huge for us tonight” says McDannold. “With Randa [Murphy] being out, she carried the load by digging 6 huge balls and keeping volleys alive.” With a 25-18 win in set number three the Patriots sealed their first conference win in as many tries. “It all comes down to our team effort” says McDannold. “When our back row is aggressive it allows our setters to work, which in turn gives our hitters a chance to put on a show.” The Patriot setters, Abbey Sorrells (Elizabethtown, KY) and Chelsea Wichman (Clayton, IN), combined for 19 assists to help lead the Patriots to a 3-0 victory.
The Patriots will travel to Milligan College this weekend to participate in the Milligan Madness tournament and will return home September 5 to face the University of Pikeville Bears in Lourdes Hall.