Molloy hangs tough against strong Fontbonne

Photo by Denis Gostev
By Joseph Staszewski

Archbishop Molloy had enough. Unhappy with its uneven play, the Stanners took out their frustrations on Fontbonne Hall in the fifth and deciding volleyball set.

“We were just getting mad and aggravated because we were playing down instead of playing to what we are capable of playing,” senior outside hitter Madeline Casello said. “We took it out on the ball and came together.”

The Stanners ripped off nine of the first 10 points of the final set to help finish off a 25-13, 19-25, 25-23, 20-25, 25-8 win over the Bonnies in CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Division I girls’ volleyball Friday night in Briarwood. It is the second time in two weeks the squads went five sets with Molloy winning both to take the season series 3-0.

Molloy (8-2) showed a similar resolve in a back-and-forth third set. Molloy finally pulled ahead 24-20 on an Erica Byrne kill. Fontbonne (4-6) then rallied to pull as close as 24-23, but Molloy won the final point when a Bonnies’ blocker made contact with the net as Bryne looked for a kill.

“This game was a mirror of the last game,” Molloy assistant Coach Rose Ruesing said. “This team seems to embrace adversity.”

Casello was the star. She blasted 14 kills and had 13 digs to get Molloy off to a fast start in the first set and dominated the front of the net at times. Ruesing praised her defense as much as her attacking, calling it one of the keys to the match. Jenna Hoffman recorded 22 digs and Emily Rabot added seven kills. Amanda Price dished out 22 assists and Anna Pastina had 12.

“Maddie is our powerhouse,” Hoffman said. “We always say when Maddie is on when she hits the ball, no one can dig it.”

The win is a continuation of one of Molloy’s best stretches of the season. The Stanners won the Francis Lewis tournament Oct. 8. They beat Long Island power Sacred Heart in the semifinals and Susan Wagner, the PSAL city title favorite, in the final.

“It boosted our confidence,” Hoffman said. “It showed us what we are capable of.”

She and the coaching staff believe the squad is capable of much more. Head Coach Steve Leoutsakos has been stressing finishing and hitting to lines and open spaces instead of the middle of the floor.

Molloy still struggled at times and Casello knows that will be one of the keys in the team’s final meeting with rival and five-time defending diocesan champion St. Francis Prep Oct. 18, after losing the first two matches 3-0. Molloy will use that match as a barometer for how much they have improved.

“It showed us how much better we are than what we are playing,” Casello said of the current stretch. “It’s kind of motivation to have a little more push for us.”

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