Girls Volleyball: St. Ignatius holds of late rally to best Sacred Heart Cathedral

St. Ignatius blockers Maria Kemiji-McDonald (left) and Michellie McDonald-O'Brien (center) contest an attack from Sacred Heart Cathedral's Danielle Westerman on Thursday at Sacred Heart Cathedral (Photo by Devin Chen)

By Ernest Stone

After visiting St. Ignatius convincingly took the first two games from WCAL rival Sacred Heart Cathedral on Thursday night, it seemed that the Wildcats were in for a short day of work.

An hour later, the Wildcats pulled out a win in a 25-19, 25-14, 23-25, 17-25, 15-5 nail-biter.

“We just had that tough loss on Tuesday night,” said St. Ignatius head coach Lisa Becerra. “We wanted to come out tonight and make sure we didn’t have to go through that again.”

St. Ignatius' Michellie McDonald-O'Brien celebrates after a point on Thursday at Sacred Heart Cathedral. (Photo by Devin Chen)

Early on, it seemed as if St. Ignatius (18-4, 2-2) could do no wrong, as the team dominated on offense and defense, and after thirty minutes the Wildcats had put themselves in a strong 2-0 game lead

Yet, just as fans prematurely exited the gym, Sacred Heart Cathedral (20-9, 1-4) got back into the game.

“It was a matter of settling into our lineup,” said Irish head coach Margaret Beima. “We became more relaxed and came out swinging.”

After a close third game, the Irish cruised to take the fourth game 25-17, and heading into the final period of play, it seemed that the Wildcats’ chance to win had all but passed.

Fortunately for St. Ignatius, junior middle blocker Michellie McDonald-O’Brien refused to be handed her second defeat in a row.

“We were playing not to lose after the first couple games,” said McDonald-O’Brien. “But there was no way we were going to walk out of here with a loss.”

The junior, who finished the match with 17 kills and four blocks, had a hand in each of the team’s first four points in the fifth game.

Soon after, the Wildcats closed out the win and escaped yet another dramatic loss.

“We have had trouble closing this entire year,” Becerra said. “But I think that’s gotten us tough, and we are peaking at the right time.”

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