RICHMOND - Her team was down 20-14 to Collegiate in the second set. The Cougars had momentum on their side as they sought to even-up Tuesday's home match against St. Catherine's at one set apiece.
And then junior setter Quinn Menger went for an attack at the net.
The defender ahead of her touched the ball, but she didn't return it over. The point went to St. Catherine's, and then Menger went back to serve for her team.
“I think overall when I go back there and it’s loud, it’s just me and the ball: put it over in play and play defense from there,” said Menger, from Powhatan. “It’s important to put it in play and keep your team alive.”
The first two shots, Collegiate hit away into the crowd. The next one, Menger landed along the left side of the Cougars' court for a service ace.
And then on the two after that, Menger’s teammate, 6-1 sophomore outside hitter Elise Williamson, delivered a cross-court shallow kill and a follow-up attack that was hit to Collegiate’s center floor to tie the frame at 20-all.
St. Catherine's would go on to edge past the Cougars by 2 points, then dominate the next and final set to sweep the home team, 3-0 (25-20, 25-23, 25-13). Since the Virginia Volleyball Showcase, the Saints still have yet to drop a single set.
But the Cougars didn’t make it easy.
They went toe-to-toe with the visiting team through two tightly contested opening sets on Tuesday night. Taylor Domson served for the opening point, and then she and her teammates raced out to a 5-0 lead over the Saints.
But after senior Jailah Channer put her team on the scoreboard with a block, St. Catherine’s rallied back to tie the match at 5-all. And with the help of Channer and Rian Sherod landing fiery hits, Williamson consistently lasering the ball off the hands of her opponents and Menger placing a couple of timely setter dump attacks, the Saints bounced back from deficits of 10-6 and 13-9 to power past the Cougars at 16-15. Menger launched a third-touch attack that a Collegiate defender punched into the shallow floor ahead of her for the go-ahead point.
The home team tightened the match at 22-20, but hit away one of freshman middle Bella Lupica’s timely attacks, as well as a serve by Williamson, before Sherod secured the opening set on a kill.
The two teams proceeded to battle neck-and-neck before Collegiate took a narrow lead up to the 14th point, then pulled away on a 6-1 stretch.
But Menger, who noted that serving “was a tough one” for her that night, found her rhythm from the back to help her Saints score six unanswered points. And then, while Collegiate would break ahead briefly, the two teams matched each other again up to 23-all before the Cougars served out, and a block at the net for set point gave the Saints a 2-0 match lead.
Channer and Sherod then piled on the big kills and unblockable attacks as St. Catherine’s took command of the third and final set after jumping out to a 6-0 advantage.
The Saints' deep back line, featuring senior Jessie Atkinson and 8th grader Campbell Wood, honed in on the Cougars' shots, with Libero Claire Ellis, from Goochland, making several big dives and even tumbling a couple of times in her aggressive bids to keep points alive. She reached one particular surefire hit from Collegiate in time to knock it skyward, with her teammates finishing off that point for a 22-19 Saints lead in the first set.
Ellis led the team in digs Tuesday night with 20. Atkinson made 12 digs and Wood had 10.
Williamson added 6 digs to her team-leading 13 kills. Sherod made 11 kills and 4 blocks while Channer had 8 kills and led the team in blocks with 5.
Menger led the Saints in assists with 29 and served two aces.
"I think it definitely boosts our confidence a little bit,” Menger said of Tuesday’s win. “All props to Collegiate – they were definitely a tough opponent.”
The two teams will get to face each other again on Oct. 16, 5:45 p.m. at St. Catherine’s School.
Up next for St. Catherine's is the Flint Hill Invitational, which takes place on Saturday, Sept. 21 and kicks-off with a 9 a.m. match against Norfolk Academy.