By Joseph Halm
Cabrini coach Kasey Laird-Dennies said her team had a simple game plan going into its match against five-time defending Division I state champion Mount Carmel – be aggressive.
The Crescents used that strategy to perfection Wednesday en route to an impressive 25-21, 25-21, 25-22 road sweep.
“Our whole game plan was to go out and serve aggressive and swing aggressive, and I think we did a phenomenal job of that tonight,” Laird-Dennies said. “We knew that we would have to keep them out of system to be successful. We served very, very well, so we kept them out of system just like was wanted to. And we swung aggressive as well. We just wanted to swing, swing, swing, and it paid off in our favor.”
Senior Kai Williams led the Crescents with 17 digs, 16 kills, and three aces while senior middle Rachel Sensebe had nine kills and three blocks. Lilliana Marlowe added 18 digs while Jen Brue had 26 assists and 14 digs.
“This was a very, very big win,” Sensebe said. “Coming here and beating this team on their home court was huge. We knew that we had to be prepared to battle, and we were. We’ve been preparing for this match all week. We took our foot off the gas at the end, and it almost cost us. But we were able to fight through and get the sweep. It’s an amazing feeling.”
The Crescents (4-0) opened the match on a 7-1 run before Mount Carmel rallied to tie the opening set at 11. Cabrini slowly pulled away from there as the Cubs couldn’t cut the lead back below three points before Sensebe’s kill sealed a 25-21 victory.
“She is going to take off this season,” Laird-Dennies said, about Sensebe’s play. “This is her first year in the middle since eighth-grade, and she’s still learning as she goes and she’s getting better every game. You’re going to see her numbers shoot up. Last night, she had 16 kills (against St. Joseph’s), and tonight, she was big as well.”
The Cubs (2-2) took an early lead in the second set before the Crescents slowly chipped away. Down three points, Williams stepped to the service line, and six points later, Cabrini was back in control. Sensebe’s block sealed a 25-21 victory.
Cabrini controlled the final set racing to a 20-12 lead before the Cubs made a furious comeback. Tea Jones recorded back-to-back blocks to cut the lead to 22-21. An error tied the match at 22, but Sensebe scored the next point, and the Crescents closed out a 25-22 victory for the sweep.
“I liked the fight that I saw in the last set,” Mount Carmel coach April Hagadone. “I saw my seniors take charge a little bit. I think Tea (Jones) did a nice job at the end of the match of bringing some energy with some big blocks. I’m just waiting on my underclassmen to start following their lead. Once we get it together, we’ll be fine.”
Emily Meyer had nine kills and 25 digs for the Cubs while Tori Frught added 28 assists. Olivia Stant and Camille Denny added four blocks each.
The defeat was the second straight home defeat for the Cubs this season. Prior to this year, the Cubs hadn’t dropped a home match since Oct. 11, 2017, against Pope John Paul II.
Hagadone said her team is focused on improving with each match.
“We’ve just got to get better day by day,” she said. “I’m glad we were able to fight back, but we can’t get in 10-point holes. We’re got to get better. We’re just working on team building right now and competing a little harder as a team.”