CHAPPELL — The No. 2 state-ranked St. Pat’s Lady Irish will be making their second consecutive trip to the State High School Volleyball Tournament next week after a three-set win over the Bridgeport Lady Bulldogs on Friday. The Lady Irish struggled at times but played well enough for the 25-17, 25-15 and 25-12, C2-6 District Championship.
St. Pat’s got out to an early 9-2 lead in set one, as Brittany Lawrence served four straight during a 5-0 Lady Irish run. Lawrence started the run with a kill and followed with a service ace and Brook Boucher and Shelby Allberry each added a kill.
A four-point run by the Lady Bulldogs later in the set closed the gap to 18-13, but St. Pat’s returned the favor with a four-point run of their own with the help of a Liz Rivas service ace and a Samantha Byrn kill.
St. Pat’s closed out the set by scoring three of the final four points. Allberry put down her second and third kill of the set and Boucher finished it off with a kill.
The Lady Irish did struggle during the set as they committed six service errors and gave up three service aces.
“We came out a little sluggish with too many service errors,” said Shelly Byrn said. “We were a little better in the second set and really started hitting our stride in the third set.
“But that’s too late.”
Bridgeport (11-20) held a 10-8 lead in the second set before the Lady Irish gained control by taking 11 of the next 12 points.
With Zandra Carlini serving, Erin Nozicka started the run with a kill and then Bre Saner had three successive kills to take a 12-10 lead. After a St. Pat’s hitting error, the Lady Irish used the serve of Boucher to stretch the lead to 19-11.
“During a time out I asked them if they looked at their record and thought it would be easy,” Shelly Byrn said. “A few of them raised their hands.
“We can’t play like that. At this time of year, a team has nothing to lose and will play all out and Bridgeport did that.”
During the run, Lawrence had two of her six kills in the set. Byrn would add two of her four set kills and Boucher again ended the set with a kill as the Lady Irish went up 2-0 in the match.
The third and final set was all Lady Irish. St. Pat’s was up 7-3 before scoring nine of 10 for a 16-4 lead. Byrn was tough to stop during the span as she had four of her 15 match-high kills. Elli Wid gave the Lady Irish match point with a kill and a Bridgeport hitting error gave St. Pat’s their 29th win of the season against just one loss.
Before the district finals began, the Lady Irish were in first place in the C2 point standings, which determines the seeding at state. No. 1 ranked Hastings St. Cecelia was just .1224 percentage points behind the Lady Irish. Depending on several games outcomes, the Lady Irish should either be seeded No. 1 or 2 at state.
“Bridgeport obviously watched some film on us and knew where our weaknesses were and they went after them,” Shelly Byrn said. “We have some things to work on before state on Thursday.
“We’ll go hard in practice before leaving for state so we’re playing our best volleyball for the state tournament.”
St. Pat’s statistics: Boucher – 32 set assists, 15 digs; Byrn – 15 kills, 2 ace blks; Lawrence – 11 kills, 5 ace blks; Allberry – 7 kills; Carlini – 15 digs.