St. Vincent netters win battle for league lead

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St. Vincent held off a late charge by Roseland University Prep to nip the previously undefeated Lady Knights, 3-1, and grab undisputed first place in the North Central League II volleyball race. Roseland came into the contest matching the top two teams in the league with a perfect record of 13-0.

It was a very strong effort by the Lady Mustangs as they avoided costly unforced errors to take the first two sets, 25-22 and 25-21. The defensive-minded Knights battled back to take the highly contested third set, 27-25, to force what turned out to be the final exciting set.

St. Vincent held a commanding 23-19 advantage with the serve, but the Knights continued to keep the ball in play by returning many kill attempts in several multi-hit rallies. After Roseland closed to 23-22, the Mustangs got a kill by Aly Kropelnicki and a match-ending put back by Margaret Coll to wrap it up.

Kropelnicki and teammate Amanda Zeryny riddled the Lady Knights with a series of hard-hit kills to keep the Mustangs in the lead for most of the match.

Much of the work by Kropelnicki came from the left side of the net, with many of her hits glancing off the hands of the Knight defenders. She was well on target and found open space on the Roseland side of the net.

Zeryny had four impressive winners in the final set, but it was her ability to slam the ball deep from the back row that made returns difficult for the visitors from Santa Rosa.

Clean kills delighted the Mustang supporters at DeCarli Gym, but the scrambling Knights made things interesting with many acrobatic returns. Monika Atles kept the ball alive for Roseland.

“I don’t think that they had two hard hits all night, and it is very frustrating to play them because they scramble so well,” said a pleased St. Vincent coach Kelsey McIntire. “I think that some of our quick sets were well played tonight. I don’t really care for sets that are too high, and we executed well with good assists against a good team.”

Sophia Skubic and Alexandra Saisi both turned in solid setting efforts, while sophomore Sarah Sarlatte and Grace Hood came up with numerous digs on hits to the open floor for the Mustangs.

The most notable dig of the match for both teams was made by Sarlatte in the fourth set when she lifted one off the floor with the score at 20-19 in favor of the Mustangs. Hood led St. Vincent with 71 digs going into the match.

It was the second important NCL II win for the Lady Mustangs in successive nights as they knocked off rival Sonoma Academy, 3-0, in Santa Rosa on Monday. The Zeryny-Kropelnicki duo accounted for 26 kills between them in the win.

St. Vincent improved to 6-0 in league play and 8-1 for the season.

St. Vincent will travel to Santa Rosa on Oct. 12 for a tough return match against the energetic Knights.

Roseland won the junior varsity match, 2-0.

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