It may be early in Kasey Laird’s tenure as the volleyball coach at Cabrini, but she hasn’t wasted any time letting opponents know that the Crescents will be a force to reckoned with.
A week after a strong showing in a five-set loss on the road against defending Division I state champion Mount Carmel, Cabrini had an opportunity Wednesday to go on the road and prove its merit once again against Dominican.
After jumping out to a 2-0 lead, the Crescents allowed Dominican to push the match into a fifth set but recovered with a dramatic 25-21, 25-18, 9-25, 15-25, 15-10 five-set win over the No. 4-ranked large school in the New Orleans Advocate Sweet 16 poll.
“I don’t know what happened in those third and fourth sets, but I know we just needed to change our mindset,” hitter Bailey Hepting said. “We had a lot of energy in that last game, and I’m proud of the way we finished it out.”
Cabrini (4-2) looked poised for a straight-set win after taking the first two sets, but the Crescents seemed to have lost their confidence in the middle sets, getting outscored 50-24.
But Laird said the team looked back on its five-set win over E.D. White on Monday as an indicator of what they’re capable of.
“We came out with an 18-16 win (in the fifth set) over E.D. White, and to be in the same situation. ... it just shows how much heart and desire they have,” Laird said.
Rakelle Spencer led Cabrini — the sixth-ranked large school in the Sweet 16 — with nine digs, while Hanna Kennair racked up a team-high 16 digs.
Hannah McGowan led Dominican’s attack with 19 kills, and Erin Malone reeled in a team-high 14 digs.
Both teams came out throwing haymakers in a back-and-forth first set, but despite trailing the entire set, Cabrini caught fire late and took seven of the last eight points to nab a 25-21 victory.
The Crescents grabbed an early lead in the second set and fought to hold onto it throughout, but they eventually ended the second set the same way they did the first, getting hot late and taking seven of the last eight points to end the set.
This time around, Cabrini ended the set with a 25-18 win.
“The big thing is they just get down on themselves,” Laird said. “It’s a continuous lesson that you have to let it go and move on, and they did that, once we got to the fifth game.”
After dropping the first two sets Wednesday, Dominican (4-7) regained its focus and turned things around with a dominating third set. Backed by its raucous home crowd, Dominican grabbed an early lead and slammed the door shut with a 13-point streak to end the set with a 25-9 victory.
Dominican rode that momentum into the fourth set and raced out to a 15-4 lead, and cruised to a 25-15 win to send the match into a fifth set.