As the crowd noise rose to a raucous crescendo and Paul VI’s players seemed to gain more energy with each point in the decisive fifth set of Thursday’s Washington Catholic Athletic Conference volleyball championship, Jade Parchment wore a blank yet focused stare. On the inside, however, the Holy Cross freshman was balancing nerves with flashes of excitement.
After switching from outside hitter to setter at the start of the season, Parchment’s kill opportunities had diminished. So with the score knotted and consecutive passes rotated her way, the freshman relished the chance to blast two points over the net.
Parchment’s scores helped the Tartans rally from a fifth-set deficit and seize an even rarer feat — a three-peat — as they held off Paul VI, 22-25, 25-16, 25-20, 17-25, 15-12, at Bishop Ireton in Alexandria.
“Having been an outside hitter before, whenever I get a chance to swing away, I love it,” said Parchment, who recorded three of her five kills in the fifth set. “The switch to setter was frustrating some early on, but I’ve adapted and my teammates have really helped me, so it was great to be able to help us come back for this win.”
Thursday marked the third straight championship meeting between the Tartans and Panthers. While the last two occasions saw Holy Cross cruise to victory, No. 9 Paul VI showed early on that it was intent on making this time different. Though eighth-ranked Holy Cross held a decided height advantage at the net, the Panthers didn’t back down, as Hailey Rubino (28 kills) and Brooke Stanley spiked several points en route to a first-set victory.
The Tartans quickly settled in thereafter, riding precise serves and the hustle play of senior Ellie Goodwin (10 kills, six digs) to take the next two sets. Megan McTigue was especially proficient in the fourth set, converting four of her team-high 14 kills to help Holy Cross reel off four of the final five points.
But Paul VI roared back into contention, as Rubino again came up big and Kendall Mayer notched an ace and two kills to help the Panthers force a fifth set.
On the verge of reversing their fortune as runners-up in five of the past seven years, a fired-up Panthers unit jumped out to a 9-7 lead following a Rubino ace. But the Tartans responded with four straight kills, the last two coming from Parchment.
“I think she was the only calm person in the gym at that point,” Tartans Coach Dave Geiser said with a smile.
The freshman hitter’s poise proved contagious, as the Tartans forced a couple of Paul VI errors before Parchment recorded the decisive kill from the right side.
“I think once we got a rhythm going with Jade and everyone else, it helped turn things back in our favor,” Goodwin said. “This was the tightest of the three [championships], but we believed this was our championship and we weren’t going to give in.” . . .
Elsewhere, Washington International swept past Covenant Life, 26-24, 25-11, 25-18 for the Potomac Valley Athletic Conference volleyball title. The team was led by 28 assists from Julia Tulloh and six kills and 12 digs by Pia Michelitsch.