Terriers edge Stanners in five-set thriller
The St. Francis Prep girls volleyball team doesn’t often play five-set matches. There was one in the CHSAA state semifinals a year ago, but it is about as rare as snow in June when it comes to Brooklyn/Queens Division I.
The Terriers have dominated the league for five years, its lone loss coming in the 2006 Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan title game to Archbishop Molloy.
Yet, St. Francis Prep dropped two of its first three sets against the Stanners Thursday in Briarwood and found itself in unfamiliar territory.
“It was a shock to all of us,” Talia Colasante said. “I think the first set we dropped was a wakeup call.”
Led by Colasante, the Terriers woke up just in time, edging Archbishop Molloy in a five-set thriller, winning 25-23, 19-25, 20-25, 25-20 and 25-19 to ensure the league winning streak, which has surpassed 50 games, remains intact.
“We all have it in our heads that we’re not ruining this streak,” Colasante said. “It’s always in our heads, especially mine since this is my last year.”
In many ways, St. Francis Prep (4-0), ranked No. 1 in New York City by MSG Varsity, goes the way of Colasante. And early on, the senior outside hitter struggled.
But with her team down two sets to one and trailing 10-8 in the fourth set, Colasante changed the match with an explosive kill and then reeled off six straight points on her serve to give the Terriers a 13-11 lead.
When No. 5 Archbishop Molloy (1-1) rallied to tie the set at 18, Colasante’s back-to-back kills helped the Terriers claim the fourth set and level the match at two. She finished with a match-high 19 kills, most of which came in the critical final two sets.
“We know she’s always there to help us if we need her to hit back row, to tip a ball, even if we need her to serve,” Jaclyn Laforgia said. “She’s always there to help the team.”
So was Laforgia, a talented sophomore right-side hitter who finished with 13 kills and helped the Terriers open up an important 5-1 lead in the fifth set.
“She’s definitely a bright spot for us,” St. Francis Prep coach Kevin Colucci said. “We knew she had a lot of potential – she’s very fast, she reacts well and she’s consistent.”
With the fifth set level at 16, the Terriers scored five straight points on the serve of Kiara Pierre (nine kills) to take a 21-16 lead. Molloy got as close as 21-18, but Laforgia had a big kill, the Stanners had some unforced errors and Tara O’Rourke closed out the nearly three-hour marathon with a service ace.
“It shows that we can withstand anything in the toughest match even if we’re down and our energy level is down,” Laforgia said. “We can dig deep enough to bring us back and win the match.”
Allison Betito had 24 digs, Kendra McCalla had 45 assists and Kelly Flynn added eight kills and three blocks for St. Francis Prep, which has won the Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan title four consecutive years.
Amanda Price had 21 assists, Katherine Kilkenny had 13 kills, Madeline Casello had 10 kills and Lauren Pagan had four huge service aces in the third set for Molloy, which has made huge strides since a lopsided loss in the championship match a year ago.
Although Thursday’s league tilt was a difficult defeat, junior libero Jenna Hoffman (16 digs, four aces) believes her team put a scare into St. Francis Prep.
“I think we really could have won if we reduced some mental mistakes,” she said. “But the improvement the team has made from when we played them last year is completely unbelievable.”
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