Patriots finish 2nd in Inter-Ac, but hope for comeuppance in PAISAA tournament

WHITEMARSH — On the way to a 16-2 record, the Germantown Academy Patriots have hit one snag.

Notre Dame.


The two losses to the current Inter-Academic League girls volleyball powerhouse, the Academy of Notre Dame de Namur, serve as the only losses the Patriots have sustained this season. And those two defeats ultimately will mean for the second year in a row, Notre Dame takes the Inter-Ac championship and GA falls to second.

Yet, with the PAISAA Independent School Championship beginning this Thursday at Germantown Academy High School, the Patriots are still playing to win, and also playing for an opportunity at redemption.

“I’d love for us to get revenge, it would be really sweet to win it,’ said second-year head coach Dan Sullivan. “The girls and I look forward to this tournament every year, it’s something that we want to win, we want that hardware.’

Sweeping nearly every team 3-0 through the season, save for the 3-0 and 3-1 losses to Notre Dame and a recent 3-2 victory over Agnes Irwin Academy, the success the Patriots have experienced is overshadowed only by the fact they won’t take the regular season title.

And while the keys to the success of the Patriots should certainly be attributed to the skill and passions of the players themselves, the starters of the team look to their preparation as the sole reason behind their 16-2 start to the 2014 girls volleyball season.

The Leprechauns, who finished 7-1 in league play followed by GA at 6-2, were able to rely on some returning players who forged an undefeated league record in 2013.

“After that initial loss, we knew to have any shot at the league title we would have to beat them next time we saw them,’ said Sullivan said. “That’s a tall task.’

With that loss the girls were well aware they were in for an uphill grind to claim the Inter-Ac championship.

“We knew we had a tough game and we weren’t ready, to be honest,’ Sullivan said. “We went there and we were tight, we were nervous, and didn’t play our best volleyball. It was probably our worst game of the season and that’s a tough way to start.’

The players recognized how difficult the challenge would be. After falling twice a season before to the Leprechauns, a win to start the season was imperative to the upheaval of the current Inter-Ac powerhouse.

“It was nerve-racking going into their gym, because we usually play better at home,’ said outside hitter and co-captain Grace Polisano. “It was a good learning lesson definitely. We got our butts whooped, but it made us work a thousand times harder at practice.’

The work they put in, a NovaCare-coordinated strict strength and conditioning regimen, the Patriots have found they’ve improved by leaps and bounds on the court through their preparation off the court.

“This year we’ve hit the weight room more than ever and I’m seeing such a difference in our explosiveness in the way we hit and the way we jump,’ Sullivan said.

“It’s definitely helped a lot,’ said co-captain and libero Erin Lindahl. “Whether or not the lifting itself is helping, it’s the mentality that we’re a serious team this year, that we’re going to play well and be good. I think that’s boosted our confidence and boosted our playing level.’

The rematch between the squads provided similar results, but saw a completely different, more confident, Germantown Academy take the court and push Notre Dame to the limit.

“Our nerves were up and since we’re such a young team it gave us a rocky start,’ Polisano said of their first match against Notre Dame. “But the second time our mindset was different, we wanted to beat them, but we really wanted to improve upon our last game.’

Putting the Leprechauns to extra points the first match, 26-24, the Patriots fell in the second match to trail 2-0 at home. However, the Patriots surged back in the third match and dominated in a 25-11 win. But Notre Dame went on a 10-point run in the fourth and final set to finish the season sweep of the Patriots.

“The games were a difference of two points or over-points, we were in it the whole time,’ Lindahl said. “I think if we would have gotten one of the first games it would have changed the momentum completely.

In the upcoming Independent Schools Championship, starting Friday at 4 p.m. when GA takes on George School at home, the Patriots are still playing with a lot on the line. Namely, the fact that they believe in their ability to defeat Notre Dame, is what continues to drive the players forward.

All they need is one more shot.

“We’re 100 percent more confident after that last match with Notre Dame,’ Lindahl said. “They really killed us that first game, but I think in the second we showed that we can beat them. I hope we see them again in the tournament. I’m excited, I think we can take them.’

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply