JEFFERSON - Competition is usually pretty strong when it's time for the district semifinals in any sport. That holds true in volleyball every season, and the Lakeview Bulldogs knew they faced an uphill battle Tuesday night when they tangled with perenial Division II powerhouse Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin.
After a slow start, the Bulldogs gave the Lions all they could handle, but putting together scoring runs proved to be a tough order for Lakeview all night as they fell to the NDCL, 25-14, 27-25, and 25-19.
"We settled down after that first game and played well in the second set," Lakeview coach Scott Taylor said. "I would like to think we did a good job of getting them out of their system. They are a very strong team, but if you get them away from their system, you can score on them and win."
The Bulldogs didn't get them anywhere away from their system in the first game, and that created an uphill battle the rest of the way, which Lakeview couldn't quite reach the top on.
After an Erica Kostelac (12 kills, 3 aces, 3 blocks) slam broke a 2-2 tie in that first set, NDCL (16-8) got scoring runs of at least three points from a trio of different players to open a 20-10 lead enroute to the 25-14 finish.
With Kostelac, Stephanie Williams and Ambre Pierce dominating the front lines from every part of the court, the Lions just had too much overall firepower for the Bulldogs to match.
Starting with an 8-0 run to open the second set, Lakeview found new life, but tourney tested NDCL responded to catch up late and then capture the final game going away.
"I think as far as being long and athletic, we have an edge on most teams," NDCL coach Tom Ray said. "Lakeview did a nice job of dinking the ball to the middle on us in that second game. We take pride in our athleticism, though, and with our solid blocking at the nets, I think eventually we were able to wear them down and take them out of the match. That's what we try to do all the time, and Lakeview played us tough the whole way."
The aforementioned trio of Lions was able to overcome a superb match from Lakeview's Marisa Naples, who slammed down 15 kills. Much of the success the Lions had came as they were able to put pairs of blockers on Lakeview's Callie Schmidt most of the night.
She had a pair of blocks, but only got four kill attempts to the floor while having many blocked right back at her. Despite a well-balanced and forceful attack, the Bulldogs just could not match the overall strength and power of the Lions, and that basically was the difference in the match.
"I'm just totally ecstatic with the season we had," Taylor said. "We can only take positives from what we accomplished all year. There is still room for improvement, too, so our success will give us a good start heading into next season."
He has every good reason to look toward big things from his girls after a 20-5 season from a team with not a single senior.
Several players had big nights for Lakeview.
Caitlynn McDivitt served up eight points to go with 21 assists passing the ball, Naples put home 15 spikes, and Rachelle Calvin had a great night on the back line with 13 digs.
McDivitt served up 7 straight points to open that 8-0 lead in the second set, but NDCL tied it late at 23-23, 24-24, and 25-25, until an ace serve by Kostelac and kill from Williams closed the game out. In the third set, the Lions opened a 14-6 edge and held off a late rally for the win.