Every time the Pope John Paul II volleyball team does something well in a home match, a snarling Jaguar growl is played over the gym’s PA system.
It was a sound heard often on Monday during a nondistrict match against Ursuline.
The Jaguars ripped through the first two games, then wavered slightly in the third set before coming back to dominate the fourth set. They defeated Ursuline, 25-12, 25-13, 22-25, 25-11.
It was the second time the Division IV Jaguars have beaten the Division III Lions this season.
The first time was in a two-set victory to clinch the H.L. Bourgeois tournament.
PJP II improved to 13-2. Ursuline fell to 9-4.
“Coming into this game, we knew we had to have a lot of positive energy because we knew Ursuline was going to push really hard,” said the Jaguars’ Allison Hartmann, who had 17 kills, 14 digs and four blocks.
Hartmann’s play was part of an almost-impenetrable PJP II front line. The large majority of balls Ursuline returned were met by several waves of attacks, which made things difficult from the start for the Lions.
Sisters Christina and Marlena Cutura each had 16 kills for PJP II. Caitlyn Battistella added 17 digs and four aces, and Milayne Danna had 39 assists.
“We’ve been struggling a bit for continuity,” PJP coach Danny Tullis said. “I wouldn’t say we’re streaky. We’re fairly consistent. But our serve receive today was better than it was all season.”
The Jaguars scratched to a 20-9 lead in the first game before a pair of unforced Ursuline errors and a kill by Christina Cutura sealed it. Marlena Cutura ended the second set with a powerful kill to the backline.
In the third set, Ursuline played inspired ball and staked itself to a 6-1 lead — a hole the Jaguars never really could escape in that game.
They returned fiercely in the fourth, taking leads of 10-4 and 20-7 before a kill by Hartmann and a mis-hit kill attempt by Ursuline ended the match.
“They blocked really well on the perimeter, and we just couldn’t get it past,” Ursuline coach Jay Jay Juan said.
Brianna McKay led Ursuline with 16 kills. Lauren Bagneris had 18 assists, and Macie Grubbs had 27 digs.