All signs pointed to this being the year the Good Counsel volleyball team would finally fall from its perch atop the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference. The eighth-ranked Falcons returned only three players who saw significant action last season, and last week they watched their remarkable streak of 115 consecutive victories against conference opponents end in a stunning loss to Elizabeth Seton.
If another team was going to take the mantle from Good Counsel, this was the season to do it — and in Friday’s WCAC title match at Trinity University, Holy Cross came mere inches away from accomplishing just that.
But after playing from behind all night, the Falcons fought off a pair of match points, caught one critical break and pulled out a riveting five-set victory to claim their sixth straight conference championship, 19-25, 25-19, 17-25, 25-21, 17-15.
In a matchup of two teams loaded with youth and lacking experience, it was Holy Cross that came out composed and energized in its first final since 2004.
The Tartans took the opening set, but quickly fell behind in the second as Good Counsel gained its composure and evened the match.
“Everyone was a little nervous,” Good Counsel senior Ashley Dumont said. “This is the first time for most of our team — we’re very young. But they picked it up.”
Holy Cross — which has just two seniors on its roster — responded in the third set, relying on heavy hitting from go-to junior Taylor Gallart, and had all the momentum in the fourth, until Dumont (17 kills) reeled off three kills in a five-point span to spark the Falcons (20-2) back to life.
The Tartans (25-7) built an 8-3 lead in the fifth set, but junior Sydney Dailey stuffed Gallart (26 kills) four times in six points to deadlock the set at 9.
“It was stressful,” Dailey said of the fifth set. “At crucial moments like that Emily [Samara] sets up really well with the block, so I just needed to meet her and then we got it.”
Two Gallart kills gave Holy Cross two match points, but a Tartans’ serve at 14-13 hit the top of the net cord and trickled back onto the Holy Cross side of the floor.
After Dailey’s seventh block of the night gave Good Counsel its first match point, Dumont’s service winner clinched it and sent the Falcons flying onto the court to celebrate.
“Everyone always says, ‘Doesn’t it get old?’ It never gets old,” Falcons Coach Karen Kart said. “But this one is different and it’s special because nobody expected it.”