In a rematch of last season’s Division I Grafton District championship, rivals Magnificat and Saint Joseph Academy met again. Last season, the Blue Streaks left celebrating after a five-set thriller.
But Saturday, it was the Jaguars’ turn.
Utilizing their stalwart defense, crisp ball movement and lengthy runs, the Jaguars beat the Blue Streaks in four sets (25-17, 25-15, 26-28, 25-22), marking the second time this season SJA defeated Magnificat.
The Jaguars advanced to the Regional semifinal, where they will play Toledo Saint Ursula at 6 p.m. tomorrow at Norwalk High School.
“I told (the team) that we got outcoached, all of us (and) all the girls got outplayed,” Magnificat coach Jess Ciborek said. “When you lose, you lose like a beast and you admit it and when you win you win like a beast.”
Magnificat led 6-5 in the first set before the Jaguars ran off seven straight points to go up 12-6. Another run increased it to 19-9 allowing them to hold off a late push by the Blue Streaks.
St. Joseph had a second-set run that gave the Jaguars an 11-5 lead, in which Magnificat couldn’t muster a comeback.
In the third set, Magnificat trailed 19-15 before the Streaks tied the set at 22-22 and, after surviving a match point for SJA, Magnificat scored the final two points to avoid a sweep.
Five-straight points to open the fourth set was the only run the Jaguars needed. Magnificat fought back to tie at multiple points, but never took the lead.
“(I told my team) just one point at a time, relax and enjoy this,” Jaguars coach Kate Latkovic said. “Go out with confidence, swing hard, keep digging these balls, keep ‘em frustrated and be there for each other as a team.”
Saturday’s match ended the high school careers of six seniors for Magnificat (Ava Montgomery, Elizabeth Ward, Caroline Kucia, Liz Meserini, Maddie Navartil and Maura Robinson). Ciborek had nothing but praise for them.
“(This group of seniors) has been one of the best, one of the most fun groups I’ve ever been around,” Ciborek said. “They have a ton of personality, they play with a ton of heart and they will definitely be missed.”
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