Volleyball: Kelly Miller, Rhamat Alhassan lead Holy Cross past Paul VI in WCAC championship

November 1, 2013

It has taken hours upon hours to perfect the chemistry between Holy Cross teammates Kelly Miller and Rhamat Alhassan, and the setter-hitter combo has been devastating for opponents this season.

Alhassan, a 6-foot-4 outside hitter, modestly believes it’s tough for her teammates to set balls for her because of her height compared to them. Miller, on the other hand, is assured of the opposite.

“You could be the worst setter in the world and she could hit it,” Miller said.

Alhassan’s performance was key Friday night at Trinity University as No. 4 Holy Cross claimed its second straight Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship with a four-set win over No. 6 Paul VI in the league title game, 25-20, 25-6, 20-25, 25-16.

With the win, the Tartans advanced to Monday’s City Championship, where they will face Independent School League AA champion No. 2 Flint Hill in a rematch of last year’s five-set contest won by the Huskies.

The Tartans (26-1) relied on the Miller-to-Alhassan connection throughout the match. Alhassan finished the contest with 26 of Holy Cross’s 51 kills. Miller was responsible for 26 of the team’s 49 assists.

“If there was no passing or setting, I wouldn’t be getting those kills,” Alhassan said.

The duo’s chemistry has paid off in a big way this season, with Holy Cross winning the regular season and conference titles.

Though the two seniors have spent a ton of time together in the gym after school perfecting their craft, their chemistry, Miller said, came together off the court. The two share several classes and became instant friends. They talk about volleyball whenever possible, getting a better feel for how they each like to play the game.

“I know what she likes, what she doesn’t like,” Miller said. “It’s important with setting. You have to know your hitter.”

After two sets, it looked like the Tartans — who split their season series with the Panthers — were on their way to a straight-sets finish, with Alhassan notching nine kills during it. But Paul VI (23-5, 17-3) didn’t back down, with freshman Hailey Rubino leading the Panthers with four kills and three digs in the third set. She finished the match with 18 digs, six kills and one block.

The fourth set was tied at 16 before Holy Cross reeled off the match’s final nine points.

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