Attending St. John’s seemed like the obvious choice for Taylor Gallart three years ago. Her older sister played volleyball at the school. But when her club volleyball coach, David Geiser, was hired to be Holy Cross’s volleyball coach, Gallart followed.
Gallart, a junior, has helped guide the Tartans to recent new heights. In Thursday’s Washington Catholic Athletic Conference semifinal at Trinity Washington University, they swept St. John’s, 25-19, 25-17, 25-20.
In each of the past two seasons, Holy Cross had fallen in the conference semifinals. But this fall, the young team will face eighth-ranked Good Counsel, the five-time league defending champion, for the title on Friday night.
“I never even thought it would happen when I came here freshman year,” said Gallart, who notched 21 kills and five digs. “To tell you the truth, I wanted to go to St. John’s. But I would never change a thing because our team is so close and it feels really good to get it finally.”
The Tartans (25-6) played solid offensively and defensively, consistently making tough saves and shots while forcing the Cadets (21-6) into miscues. Sophomore middle blocker Rhamat Alhassan notched four crucial blocks and several other strong defensive plays to help limit the Cadets hitters, including conference player of the year Darian Dozier.
The 6-foot-1 Gallart turned in a typical performance, hitting powerful shots over the net. After the all-conference player smacked down the match-winning point, she threw her right fist in the air in a huddle of her teammates.
“It feels really, really good,” she said. “We’ve been working so hard this year and we have such a young team. And in this game, everybody stepped up and everybody was playing their best game.”
In the other semifinal, Good Counsel (19-2) defeated Bishop Ireton in four sets, 21-25, 25-16, 25-20, 25-16.
The Cardinals (16-14) took advantage of early Falcons miscues and used strong defensive performances from junior Emileigh Rettig and sophomore Ashley Cabrera. But in the second set, the Falcons, a younger team than years past, took control.
Senior outside hitter Ashley Dumont finished with 27 kills and two blocks, while senior Celine Rosenwald added nine kills.
“We played very well,” said senior libero Lenka Malec, who finished with 12 digs and was named, along with Dumont and setter Jennifer Morrissey to the all-conference team. “They’re a good team. But we just pulled together.”