Three hundred and sixty days ago to the date, the Trinity Shamrocks lost the District 3 girls’ Class 2A volleyball championship to York Catholic on the Fighting Irish’s home court in front of a raucous, home crowd. In that match, York Catholic came storming back after dropping the first set and dominated the ’Rocks with great defense that frustrated a very talented Trinity team. And that win propelled the Fighting Irish to the PIAA state final two weeks later, as Trinity’s season came to an abrupt and deflating end at the hands of the tenacious Irish.
“After losing last year, we really had to re-evaluate as a program,” Trinity head coach John Barrick said after this year’s finals rematch, played at Trinity on November 2. “York Catholic really made us start back at ground zero.”
Ground zero was this year’s District final at Trinity, where the ’Rocks’ faithful partisans created their own frenzied atmosphere that seemingly gave them the extra boost to come out ready to play. Winning the first set easily, 25-7, Trinity had the Fighting Irish on their heels from the first serve. Whereas last year York Catholic was able to counter Trinity’s great outside hitting game with an equally great digging and passing game, this year Trinity pounded the middle of the net with relentless attacks at York Catholic’s interior defenders. Trinity’s lethal top-spin jump serve game also gave the Irish fits. When the Irish were able to grab a 12-9 lead in the third set, giving the ‘Rocks a slight scare even though they had a two-set lead, it was that powerful serving game that propelled Trinity to a 16-1 run that won the third set and ended the Irish’s great (16-6) season.
“As soon as we saw it was going to be York Catholic in the final, I did not even have to say a word to them. They were ready,” Coach Barrick said as his players were celebrating their avenging victory.
York Catholic beat Delone Catholic in a five-set thriller in the semifinals to advance to meet Trinity. The ’Rocks, at 22-0, have not lost a set all year and look quite poised to make a deep run in the PIAA Class 2A state tournament. They will be a tough out, given their senior-laden roster who has tasted bitter defeat a year ago, only to rise again to capture the gold a year later.
“This is the best feeling I think I have ever had,” senior hitter Sammi McAuliffe said. “Such an amazing game and to be able to play York Catholic again because they are such great competition, it’s the most awesome feeling ever. I feel so blessed to be here.”
(Photos by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)
By Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness