MAYFIELD - Needing a win to set up a showdown with Galway for the Western Athletic Conference North Division title on Monday, the Mayfield volleyball team dropped a 3-1 decision to Saratoga Central Catholic on Thursday.
The Lady Saints won by scores of 25-17, 24-26, 25-17 and 25-21.
Mayfield’s Nicole Little, right, hits past the block attempt of Saratoga Catholic’s Myah Ondreyko during Thursday’s Western Athletic Conference volleyball match at Mayfield.(The Leader-Herald/Paul Wager)
"We knew this one would be a big one," Mayfield coach Eileen Rovito said. "We went down to the wire with them over there before losing in five games."
In the first meeting Sept. 12, Mayfield lost 3-2 at Saratoga Catholic by scores of 24-26, 25-15, 24-26, 25-19 and 25-17.
Heading into Thursday's rematch, the Lady Panthers needed a win to remain one game behind division-leading Galway going into Monday's WAC finale at Galway.
However, Mayfield fell behind quickly in the first game and never recovered as the Lady Saints seized a 1-0 lead with a 25-17 first-game win.
"Slow starts have been a pattern of ours this season," Rovito said. "Sometimes we dig ourselves out, and sometimes we don't quite make it."
While Mayfield was looking to shake off a slow start, Saratoga Catholic got out of the gates quickly despite going five games in each of its last two matches and playing for the third time in as many days.
The Lady Saints went five games in a 3-2 loss at Galway on Tuesday and five more Wednesday in a 3-2 home win over Canajoharie.
"We've played a lot of volleyball this week," Saratoga Catholic coach Maria Izzo said.
Despite back-to-back marathon matches, the Lady Saints surged to the lead early in the second game before five-point service run by Mayfield's Nicole Little gave her team a 14-9 lead.
After trading points, Saratoga Catholic responded with a seven-point burst by Meghan McDonough to regain the lead at 20-18.
Mayfield remained within striking distance, fending off a game point before closing out the second game with two straight service points by Miranda Eagan to win 26-24, evening the match at 1-1.
As it did in the first two games, Saratoga Catholic got going quickly in the third game, grabbing 13-4 lead.
Erin Thornton keyed the run for the Lady Saints, reeling off eight straight service points, while Natalie Pikus had three straight kills during the game for Saratoga Catholic.
Mayfield got no closer than six points before losing the third game, 25-17.
Needing a win in the fourth game to keep their hopes for a win alive, the Lady Panthers jumped out to a 4-1 lead.
However, the Lady Saints pulled even and took the lead on back-to-back aces by Liza Orsini.
Saratoga Catholic extended its lead to five points at 21-16 before Mayfield rallied to tie the match at 21-21 with four straight points from Mackenzie Biggers. However, the Lady Saints sealed the game and the win by claiming the final four points of the match. Three of those points came on the serve of McDonough.
"Any time you get a win, period, it's a good win," Izzo said.
McDonough finished with 21 service points, eight assists and six aces for Saratoga Catholic, while Thornton registered 27 digs, 22 points, five kills and three aces. Pikus added eight blocks and four kills for the Lady Saints.
"I've been preaching to the team all year that the most important thing is to play together as a team," Izzo said. "They did a good job of that today. They hustled and were determined."
Little finished with 20 points, nine kills, six digs and four aces to lead Mayfield, while Karissa Morey registered seven points, seven assists, six digs and four kills. Eagan posted 13 points, 10 assists, six kills and two blocks for the Lady Panthers, and Kaylee Bumpus had nine points, six kills and a blocks. Biggers added 12 points for Mayfield.
"The kids played well," Rovito said. "It was a well-played match."
Mayfield (11-4 overall, 9-3 WAC) will travel to Galway on Monday before wrapping up the regular season with a non-league home match against Johnstown on Tuesday.
"These last three matches will be a good test for us heading into sectionals," Rovito said. "Saratoga Catholic, Galway and Johnstown are three good teams and playing them will get us ready for sectionals."
Saratoga Catholic ends the regular season with a 12-4 overall record and an 11-2 mark in WAC play.
Pairings for the Section II volleyball tournament will be announced Tuesday.