Shanahan makes sure there’s no O’Hara comeback

PHILADELPHIA — Cardinal O’Hara volleyball made a habit of falling behind during the 2014 season. The Lions would drop the first several points of a game, or even sets at a time. More often than not, however, they’d rally for a victory. It’s difficult to win a district title without doing so.

But sometimes the deficit is too great to make up. Sometimes the opponent is too good. And sometimes, O’Hara commits too many errors to overcome.

Such was the case Tuesday night in the Lions’ PIAA Class AAA opener at Community College of Philadelphia against Bishop Shanahan. The Eagles swept the Lions aside 3-0 by scores of 25-19, 25-16, and 25-13.

“I don’t think it was them so much as it was us,’ O’Hara senior captain Natalie Gray said. “We’ve been our worst enemy all season. They did play a very good game, but we didn’t help ourselves.’

The Lions totaled 41 unforced errors in the match. They led just once over the three games.

“(Shanahan) did nothing out of the ordinary,’ Lions coach Bill Collins said. “They have very good ball control. We knew it was going to be tough going in. And we dug ourselves big holes in each set.’

Shanahan led by as many as nine in the first game, 11 in the second, and 12 in the third. Each time his team fell behind, Collins called timeout in exasperation. “No more unforced errors,’ he told his players. They heeded their coach’s advice, but only for a short time. The Lions drew close in every game only to see, in Collins’ words, “the avalanche come.’

“They’re good enough,’ Collins said of the Eagles. “They don’t need our help.’

Shanahan entered the night shorthanded once again. Three players sat on the bench in street clothes. Two wore walking boots, the third was in a sling. But the Eagles have overcome those injuries with underclassmen playing key roles in their postseason run. Rita Shultz and Katie Quinlan were the only two seniors in Shanahan’s starting lineup Tuesday evening. Shultz teamed with her sister Renee, a freshman, to create a formidable duo.

“I can’t explain how much I love playing with her,’ Rita said. “We have a connection on the court.’

The Shultz sisters ended all hopes of a comeback with O’Hara rallying in the third set. Up 12-10, Renee hammered home a spike. Rita followed that point with an ace. It was part of a 13-3 closing run for the Eagles (19-5).

“People didn’t give us much of a chance in the sections,’ Rita said. “We had to fight that much more. (States) is a clean slate. The goal is to get the next point, the next game, the next match.’

O’Hara’s seniors end their careers after one of the more successful four-year runs in program history. The Lions (18-8) won District 12 three out of four seasons. No other class has accomplished that.

Kristen Daly led O’Hara with nine kills. Dana Keir contributed four kills and three blocks. Gray had 14 digs. They stayed true to themselves to the end.

“If the game went up to 30,’ Gray jokingly predicted, “I think we would have had them.’

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply