Over the past half-decade, the St. Francis Prep ladies volleyball team has dominated the Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA).
That domination continued as the Lady Terriers defeated the Stanners of Archbishop Molloy in the Brooklyn/Queens CHSAA championship game in Fresh Meadows on November 2.
Before the championship game, the Stanners and Lady Terriers met three times this year, including a tiebreaking match for the highest seed. The Lady Terriers won that match to clinch the number one seed. Team captain Talia Colasante, who recorded 22 kills in the championship match, was one of the reasons for the Lady Terriers’ incredible success this season.
“During the championship we wanted to do the same thing [as they did by beating Archbishop Molloy in the tiebreaking match] and show them who’s boss,” Colasante said.
The Lady Terriers used the emotional loss in the last regular season match on “Senior Night” as motivation to defeat Molloy in the tiebreaker and in the finals.
If the loss to the Stanners that snapped the Lady Terriers regular season winning streak wasn’t motivation enough, Prep would find a motivation in the practices leading up to each match.
Caroline Vallone played an integral role in securing the victory against the Stanners in the finals.
“This team is one of the most motivated teams I’ve seen and with whatever rotation Mr. C. puts us in we can still overcome any obstacle and take down any team put in our path,” said Vallone.
“Mr. C.” or head coach Kevin Colucci prepared his team for the playoffs all season. Although the ladies were disappointed about losing on “Senior Night,” Colucci saw the big picture in getting to the Brooklyn/Queens finals and winning their fifth consecutive Brooklyn/Queens CHSAA title.
“We put it together at the end and it was nice to see them win the championship,” Colucci said. “I was hoping that we would get back to the states and see how we play against the other teams.”
This finals match was a battle and a nail biter to watch. Under Colucci’s direction, they played with “clear eyes” and a “full heart,” part of the team’s motto that is displayed on team sweatshirts.
“He drives me to play to the best of my ability,” said team captain Allison Betito, referring to Colucci and his coaching techniques.
St. Francis plays in the CHSAA class AA state tournament on Saturday, November 12. Their opponent, St. Anthony’s, has won the state tournament the last two years, but the Lady Terriers have the camaraderie and proficiency to win this year. Team captain Caitlin O’Doherty talked about what St. Francis needs to do in order to be a competitor in the state tournament.
“As a team [we] have to be more motivated, more enthusiastic and work together, play hard and in general have the mindset of wanting to win and not let the little things get the best of us and play hard,” she said.
These ladies surely have the mindset of a winning team – playing through injuries and other obstacles over the course of the season. Kelly Flynn, a junior on the team, has been a bright spot for the Lady Terriers all season long. She was forced to sit out the semifinal match against The Mary Louis Academy due to a mild concussion and early in the first game of the best of five series in the final match, she went down with an ankle injury. However, Flynn came back to record eighteen kills and five blocks to give St. Francis the push they needed to win the fourth and fifth sets.
“It’s a mindset that you have to have that nothing could hold you back,” said Flynn.
Now, the Lady Terriers face the state tournament in Buffalo on Saturday.