Six times the Snails went up against their Independent School League rivals in regular season and tournament play, and all six times they came out out on the losing end with nary a set for their efforts.
But Madeira’s upperclassmen knew their time would come, and with Flint Hill rebuilding following consecutive state championship seasons, the Snails have stepped up to seize control of the private school ranks.
With a rowdy crowd for Thursday’s senior night, the Snails rode a steady offense and a flurry of thunderous kills from senior Breanna Atkinson to overpower their rivals and clinch the ISL AA regular season title with a 25-21, 25-16, 25-14 victory.
“Our goal from the moment we lost our last match last season was to be here again, but not have that bad feeling,” senior Claire Karakozoff said. “We wanted to be exuberant. We wanted to be the team celebrating.
“We brought it tonight, we brought it good.”
Flint Hill (16-14), playing without outside hitter Haley McClure (illness), hung with the home team in a back-and-forth opening set, despite a lineup that features four freshmen. But Madeira pulled away in the second set with sure-handed setting from senior Nicole O’Donnell who tallied 28 assists while varying the Snails’ point of attack.
From there, Atkinson — a Duke recruit and an alternate on the U.S. under-18 national team — took charge, hammering six of her 15 kills in the third set to help the Snails (23-2) all but lock up the top seed in the upcoming VISAA tournament.
“Everyone was hitting tonight, and we’ve been doing it all season,” Atkinson said. “Nicole just knows how to set me and my teammates, and that makes us hard to beat.”
Madeira, which finished third at states last season and has not dropped a set in its past 13 matches, is determined to keep its dream season rolling along right into the state final, where they just might meet the Huskies once more. The Snails swept the Huskies in the final of the Flint Hill Invitational on Sept. 24.
“We never quite matched up to Flint Hill last year. We’ve been gradually making that push and this was our year,” Madeira Coach Kim Adams said. “Hopefully we’ll see Flint Hill again in the state finals — and let’s go!”