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Notre Dame excited but nervous about upcoming tournament
Notre Dame junior Allyson Bradshaw admits her team is dealing with a lot of emotions as it prepares for the Class 3 state volleyball championships.
"We're really excited," Bradshaw said. "We want to win, but we're nervous at the same time. We'll try and do our best."
The state tournament is set up in a round-robin format, with the top two teams advancing to the finals at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Bulldogs' nerves will be put to the test when they square off against their first opponent, Villa Duchesne at 5 p.m. today. Other round-robin matches will follow against O'Hara at 7 p.m. and Logan-Rogersville at 9 p.m.
Notre Dame coach Tara Stroup said she isn't too concerned about her team playing three matches in a row.
"We've played some tournaments where we play six games a day," Stroup said. "We've practiced for it, conditioned for things like this. Hopefully we'll be able to outlast the other teams."
Duchesne enters with a record of 30-7-2. The Bulldogs know little about the Saints, but they do know 6-foot-1 senior Frankie Vain is a dominating middle hitter. Vain leads Duchesne with 429 kills and 192 blocks. The Saints also boast 5-11 sophomore Faith Rolwes, who leads the team with 917 assists.
Notre Dame feels confident it can compete with any team in its path.
"If we made it this far, I think we can play with the teams up here," Bradshaw said.
Also standing in the Bulldogs' way will be two-time defending state champions O'Hara.
The Celtics (26-6-1) are led by junior middle Tori Hurt, who has tallied 341 kills and 117 blocks on the season.
Stroup views O'Hara, which has won five state championships since 2002, as the favorite.
"I think our chances are good if we come out and play like we played last Saturday," Stroup said.
Notre Dame will see Logan-Rogersville in the final match of the evening.
The Wildcats (27-10) have a more balanced attack than the other two opponents. They have three girls with over 200 kills, including Erica Heim, who leads the way with 237 kills and 390 assists.
Notre Dame enters the state tournament with a 34-4 record.
Bulldogs senior Meghan Dohogne knows the title is up for grabs.
"On any given day anybody can beat anybody," Dohogne said. "Volleyball is such a game of momentum, but we feel confident."
Notre Dame will rely on its teamwork and balance to try to capture the school's first state championship in the sport.
"Try and play every aspect of the game well," Stroup said of what the Bulldogs must do to win that first title. "Try and prepare for whatever comes at us. And to play hard, that has a lot to do with it.
"I told them at the very beginning to get out there and play your hardest. We have to put forth as much effort as we have and see what happens."