Monday, August 25, 2014


         Jason McDannold knew that his team would face a stiff challenge when they opened the season last weekend at the Early Bird Classic at Dearborn, Michigan. What he didn’t know was how his team, a combination of returnees and newcomers, would respond.

         Answer? A resounding affirmative as the Patriots blitzed the talented field, going 4-0 while losing only one set the entire weekend. After opening with a 3-0 win Friday over host University of Michigan – Dearborn (25-14, 25-16, 25-15), St. Catharine followed that with a 3-1 win later Friday over Madonna University who is ranked fourth nationally. On Saturday they nailed down the first place trophy with 3-0 victories over both Lawrence Tech (25-18, 25-22, 25-19) and IU – South Bend (25-14, 25-23, 26-24).
      “We had some outstanding play at all positions,” said McDannold who is in his second year leading the patriot program. “It all starts with passing and Jodie Klein had an excellent tournament as our defensive specialist.”
       Klein, a junior from Louisville, had a whopping 102 digs in the four matches. In the win over Madonna she had a career best 44 digs. That match was tight throughout as the teams split the first two sets (25-22, 23-25). But the Patriots pulled out a 26-24 win in the third set and finished the match with a 25-20 win in set four.
      Madonna came into the tournament with 38 consecutive regular season wins. They had not lost a regular season match since the 2012 season. Madonna finished last season with a 41-2, losing in the quarterfinals of the NAIA national Tournament. The Crusaders’ only loss in the Early Bird Classic was to the Patriots.
        “Obviously they (Madonna) had a good team and they were double blocking our middle which has been our strong suit in the past,” said McDannold. “But we distributed the ball well and our outside hitters played well.”
        Casey Stone, a senior, and Rebecca Just, a junior, did most of the scoring outside with 16 and 13 kills respectively. Senior Cat Hall had 12 kills. Hall led the team in hitting percentage at .346.
        Next up for the Patriots is another test as they travel this weekend to Daytona Beach to play in the Embry Riddle Labor Day Tournament. On Friday they take on Montreat College and Bryan College and Saturday they play Taylor University and Warner University.
       “This is a stronger tournament than last weekend so we have to bring our best game,” concluded McDannold. `