SJA defeats St. Michael in volleyball

St. Joseph’s Academy overpowered St. Michael the Archangel 3-0 amid the ceremony and excitement of their annual Pink Game for breast cancer research at the St. Michael gym on Monday.

The Redstickers found their rhythm early and kept the St. Michael (13-8) on the defensive most of the night as they won in straight sets 25-11, 25-9 and 25-11.

“Altogether we were working hard as a team,” SJA outside hitter Sydney Davis said. “We were excited because the crowd was here, and I think we really brought it tonight.”

Both teams, and most of the crowd, were dressed in pink and the game capped off a week of spirit activities at both schools that raised more than $8,000 for breast cancer research.

“It’s exciting to have this many people come to watch volleyball,” SJA coach Sivi Miller said. “You have big crowds at tournaments, but it’s nice to have this noise level. Both the teams will move on to the playoffs, and that’s what you’ll have to face there.

“The main thing I have to tell them is to keep the intensity and stay focused on the game,” she said.

St. Joseph’s (22-1) stayed focused from the beginning, taking an early 12-2 lead in the first set as St. Michael had difficulty returning serve and passing the ball. They stretched the margin to 18-4 before the Warriors played them even for the last 14 points but it was too little, too late.

The second set was more of the same as St. Joseph got its power game going behind kills by Davis, Katherine Young and Hanna Rovira and broke to a 14-2 lead. St. Michael was able to put together a 6-2 run, but SJA regrouped and closed out the second set with a 9-2 advantage featuring three kills by Rovira.

Miller substituted freely in the third set, beginning with freshman Elise Gasperecz who served to open the set and collected three service winners and an ace, as well as getting an assist on a kill by Young as SJA got off to a 6-0 start.

Fellow freshman Melanie Miller served SJA to four straight points later in the set.

St. Michael could score more than one point at a time only once in the third set as the Redstickers cruised to a 25-11 win.

“We have enough talent that they lean on each other, and that’s what makes it a well-rounded team,” Miller said. “They’re a fun group and they work hard.

“We were able to get a lot of kids in tonight, and that’s always nice.”

Rovina had nine kills, five blocks and two digs to lead the Redstickers. Young had four kills and 11 digs, and Parker Harrell had 10 assists to go with a kill and two digs.

St. Michael coach Rob Smith told his team to use the match as a learning experience.

“We got whipped tonight, but we got whipped by a better team,” he told them. “Sometimes a whipping can be the right thing if you learn something from it that helps you get better.”

Madeline Gremillion had four kills, two digs and an ace for St. Michael. Hannah Kettner added three kills and three digs.