After finishing second in the B.A. Sports High School Volleyball Tournament for the second straight year, Notre Dame players were left pondering the paradox of rally scoring.
As the Bulldogs found in the gold-bracket final Saturday evening, it's hard to stage a rally in rally scoring.
After Oakville staged a late rally to win the first game 17-15, and after Notre Dame turned the tables for a 16-14 comeback in the second game, a third rally was nowhere to be found, much to the chagrin of Notre Dame.
Oakville, playing under first-year coach Becky Czuppon, won its first B.A. Sports title with a 15-10 victory over Notre Dame in the third set, which employed the rally scoring method, rarely used on the high-school level.
In the silver-bracket championship game, Caruthersville defeated Scott City 15-12, 15-3.
In rally scoring, teams don't have to win the serve to score points. Every volley ends in a point, which moves the match along quickly. With the third game tied 8-8, Oakville reeled off six straight points in a matter of minutes to take a commanding 14-8 lead. With the prospect of any miscue ending the match until it could even the score, Notre Dame was backed into a corner with conservative play and ultimately succumbed when a Jessie Boncek spike went off the hands of Kristen Boos.
"I wish it had been like a regular game, then I believe we would have won," senior Ali Tyson said. "We never use it except for tournaments. I hate rally scoring."
Czuppon, whose Tigers went 8-0-1 in the tournament, was wary of the rally format, which can bury a team quick.
"You can't get too much down without the other team walking away," Czuppon said.
Notre Dame appeared to be zeroed in on the first game, leading 13-8 and 14-11, but Oakville staved off two game points before rallying for the win. With the Tigers fighting back for a 16-15 lead, Valerie Vogler sealed the comeback with a kill.
Oakville (15-1-1) then looked honed in on the title and took an 11-3 lead in the second game. But Notre Dame, through the course of four serve-outs, scored eight straight points during one stretch to take a 13-12 lead. The Tigers moved to match point at 14-13, but Notre Dame pulled even on a Laura Browne spike, which was followed by a Sommer McCauley ace and a game-ending block-kill by Browne and Emily Buerhle.
Notre Dame's own first-year coach, Tara Stroup, wasn't going to let the three-set loss ruin an otherwise strong showing in the 40-team tournament. After winning its pool Saturday, Notre Dame went on to defeat Puxico 15-5, 15-7; rallied to defeat Lindbergh in three sets 15-17, 15-7, 15-10; and swept Jackson convincingly in the semifinals, 15-4, 15-3.
"To go three games in rally scoring is about the best we could have hoped for," Stroup said. "We had a really good day. I'm not disappointed a bit in this."
Notre Dame went 6-1-1 in the tournament to improve to 13-2-1 overall.
"I'm happy because we played real hard and aggressive," McCauley said. "We wanted to win, but we're not going to feel real bad."
Erin Pfau led Notre Dame with eight kills and had 13 service points. McCauley added seven kills and Browne had six kills and nine blocks. Tyson added four kills, 15 assists, 15 digs and nine service points. Boos finished with 13 service points and five digs.
Oakville finished second in its pool, but advanced to the finals of bracket play with wins over St. Louis Notre Dame, Farmington and Leopold.
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