Some of the Lady Irish were nervous, but it didn’t show much as St. Pat’s opened the volleyball season with a sweep of Perkins County on Thursday.
St. Pat’s won 25-11, 25-13 and 25-16, despite starting two sophomores and a freshman.
"I’m really proud of our underclassmen," said senior Bree Saner. "I was proud of them not being afraid.
"They were nervous going in, but it didn’t show on the court and they did well."
St. Pat’s head coach Shelly Byrn, who picked up her 200th career victory on the night, echoed her senior’s comments.
"It really says a lot about our three seniors," Byrn said. "The seniors did a good job of making sure everyone was in the right places and the underclassmen played well.
"These seniors know they are going to need the underclassmen this year if they are going to win games."
The third set was the most competitive on the night. After going down 0-2, Perkins County kept with the Lady Irish and were down just one 10-9, when Saner got the serve.
Saner served eight straight points — including two aces — to lift the Lady Irish to an 18-9 lead.
"[Perkins County] was really deep with their serve receivers," Saner said. "I was hitting a floater, trying to get the ball to drop in the hole in the defense.
"Coach Byrn told me to try and hit the donut hole and that’s what I was doing."
Even when the Lady Plainsmen were able to return serve in the run, the serve was deep enough that they couldn’t set up a play at the net.
"Bree’s a smart player, a smart server," Byrn said. "I want her to be able to recognize the weakness in the defense instead of me telling her.
"She recognized where they were and kept hitting it into a good spot."
Saner led the team with seven ace serves and also had four kills and three defensive digs. Brittany Lawrence led the Lady Irish with 11 kills on the night, while Katie Montgomery had 18 set assists.
"Having Brittany out there makes it so much easier for us," Saner said of her teammate. "She can erase a bad service return and she’s hard to get the ball past when she’s blocking."
The Lady Irish opened the season ranked No. 1 in Class D1.
"That’s a tribute to last year’s team and how well we did," Byrn said. "We haven’t talked about it. We have three seniors back and we dropped a class, but that ranking is more for what we did last year than anything we’ve done this season."
Courtney Ostermiller led the Lady Plainsmen with four kills, one block and eight defensive digs. Rebecca Johnson recorded four kills, Courtney McClenhahan had six set assists, and Steph Schrotberger added six set assists and seven defensive digs.
The Lady Irish will play on Tuesday at the Dundy County-Stratton Triangular, along with Cambridge, while the Lady Plainsmen will be at the Hitchcock County Triangular on Tuesday with Wallace.