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Notre Dame volleyball gets past Pirates in straight sets

By Greg Bates

SUAMICO – The alternate girls’ volleyball season has been a rocky start for Notre Dame Academy.

But the way the Tritons played March 25, it could be a good indication of the talent and promise on this year’s squad.

In only its fourth match of the spring, Notre Dame swept rival Bay Port (25-18, 25-19, 28-26) on the road.

In the first week of practice, Notre Dame was forced to go on quarantine and then spring break followed, so the Tritons didn’t get their season going until mid-March.

“In an already shortened season, getting behind the eight ball, we didn’t have time to figure out lineups,” Notre Dame coach Ben Alexander-Wolf said. “We’ve been making some changes, but the last couple of matches, we’re settling in now and we’re hitting our groove. Offensively, we look lots better than we did against Sheboygan North, our first match after the pause. Things are coming together.”

Earning a sweep against the Pirates gives the Notre Dame players lots of confidence.

“It feels awesome,” Tritons outside hitter Olivia Sullivan said. “We’ve been working hard in practice. We lost to Preble (March 23), but we played well and I’m happy with how the team played tonight.”

After Notre Dame won the first two sets, the Pirates were making a push to force a fourth set.

Bay Port led the third, 20-17, before Notre Dame tied it 23-23.

The Pirates had two shots at set point, but Notre Dame tied it each time.

With the score 26-26, Notre Dame scored the final two points to earn the victory, 28-26.

“We pushed through at the end,” said Sullivan, who had five of her team-high 11 kills in the third set. “The only time we were up was at 26 points, so we got that momentum going.”

Alexander-Wolf said he liked the play of the junior Sullivan.

“She played tremendous tonight,” he said. “Watching her this summer, I knew she was going to be a high flyer and a big offensive threat for us.”

Notre Dame (2-2) won the opening set, 25-18, scoring seven of the final eight points to pull away.

The second set was similar.

Tied at 17, the Tritons took advantage of some unforced errors by Bay Port (2-5) to win going away, 25-19.

First-year Bay Port coach Kris Pulka-Schuh said she’s seeing progress from her young squad.

“They’re starting to come around to my philosophy, which is, ‘No ball hits the floor unless a diving attempt is made,’” she said. “You could see that with Sofia (Johnson) chasing some balls down. I’m proud of the way they played.”

Notre Dame, which had eight aces as a team, got three aces and 19 assists from Cadence Maxfield.

Sarah Wingert added a pair of aces and 10 digs.

Grace, who’s coming off a tweaked ankle, led Bay Port with seven kills.

Keegan McGlachlin chipped in six kills and six service points.

With Notre Dame trying to catch up on its schedule after the quarantine, the Tritons have a busy stretch with three matches in five days.

“We’ve got to keep rolling, playing how we were tonight,” Sullivan said. “Hopefully, we can keep this momentum going and go on a winning streak.”

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