The point that sealed the fifth straight WCAC volleyball title for Holy Crosswas as bizarre as it was exciting. It happened so fast that you could miss it if you’d looked away, but rest assured the Tartans will remember it for a long, long time.
Off a spike by Bishop O’Connell’s Maxine Friedman, the conference player of the year, Nicole Dao sprawled for a dig that caught just enough of the ball to keep it off the floor. Riley Parchment flicked it in desperation a foot higher. Her sister and the play’s server, Jade Parchment, somehow got a decent swing for a kill.
“Typically it’s plays like that where you feel the pressure,” said Jade Parchment, a junior.
Not this time.
The sequence gave Holy Cross a four-point lead in the decisive fifth set, and the Tartans went on to a 3-2 win by scores 25-10, 21-25, 25-16, 20-25, 15-8. Holy Cross will play the winner of the ISL in the Metro City Championship at 6 p.m. Monday at Holy Cross.
Before the play, a nun from O’Connell prayed the rosary in a corner of the gym at St. John’s College High. That’s what WCAC title games look like when they come down to the wire.
Holy Cross had twice lost to O’Connell (32-4) in the regular season. It hadn’t won a fifth set all year.
The Tartans (24-3) squandered a lead halfway through the fourth set that put O’Connell back in the match. Sarah Lawler served a 5-1 run to end the set and pull the Knights even.
Holy Cross Coach Dave Geiser wasn’t worried about that.
Every player on his roster, save for freshmen Riley Parchment andAlejandra Serrano, had won a conference title before Saturday.
“We have this,” the coach told his team between sets. “We’re the better team. We’re going to win.”
“It got a little emotional in the huddle. We wanted this for our seniors,” said star middle blocker Emily Ryan, a senior.
Then the Tartans opened up a 7-1 run to start the set, reminiscent of a 6-1 surge to open the match. They resolved to go back to Ryan, a first team all-conference selection, as a main source of offense. She had five kills in the set. Jade Parchment, another conference first-teamer, had four, including back-to-back blocks that took the legs out of O’Connell’s attack.
“The bigger the game, the bigger Jade plays,” Geiser said. “She’s always been that way.”
As players huddled around a trophy for pictures, it looked like they were waving to spectators snapping photos. Nope.
“Number five!” they yelled.