By John Knebels
RADNOR – Watch an intense volleyball match and be prepared to wince every now and then.
spanes to the floor, arms outstretched to the max. Knees twisting, elbows slamming against the hardwood. It is not a sight for the timid.
So after Archbishop Wood had defeated Cardinal O’Hara in Sunday’s Catholic League championship at Cabrini College, it stood to reason that the victorious Vikings would be bruised and battered.
“I’m not sore,” insisted senior Angela “Ang” DiMaria. “I wear knee pads, so most of the time I don’t really feel it. Well, maybe my ribs hurt a little bit, but I’m not complaining. I’m feeling great.”
That appeared a bit hard to believe after reviewing DiMaria’s post-match statistics that included 18 digs and nine kills. But DiMaria was certainly not the only Viking who left everything on the court.
Junior Dana Markol was sensational at the libero position. She was credited with 31 digs, but that doesn’t account for the “just-miss” efforts throughout the contest.
Senior setter Jen Mastantoni paved several outstanding feeds to the front line and finished with 33 assists to go along with her 10 digs. Sophomore Sarah Brady added 12 digs while senior Kim Mlodzinski did an outstanding job of serving, particularly in the third game of the match.
After Wood, which entered the match undefeated and had stunned O’Hara during the regular season, won the first game, 25-21, the seven-time defending champion Lions responded with a 25-20 victory.
With the score tied early in the third game, a series of impressive serves by Mlodzinski led to a huge advantage that ultimately ended in a 25-13 triumph. Clearly spent, and perhaps a bit shell-shocked, O’Hara could not recover in the fourth game as the Vikings won easily, 25-13.
“We had so much confidence that we could get this done,” said Mastontoni. “All of us worked so hard for this.”
With the crowd noise rising and match point nearing, DiMaria had the honor of deciding the championship with kills on the final two points of the match.
The last kill, which deflected off an O’Hara blocking attempt, had not even hit the ground yet before the Vikings started celebrating their first Catholic League championship since 1993 and their automatic inclusion in the PIAA Class AAA tournament.
The fact they defeated O’Hara for the title was significant because the Lions had captured nine of the past 10 championships.
“You have to be able to beat the best team, and for years, O’Hara has been the best team,” said DiMaria. “We have been preparing all season for this. There were a lot of long rallies and we expected that. We stayed with it and never gave up on any play.”
As for providing the final kill?
“The adrenaline rush was there,” she said. “I was getting really excited. At that point, I definitely wanted to have the last kill. It was a perfect way to end it.”
John Knebels can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.