In 2006, the Pios stumbled out to a 5-6 start and dropped the first two games of the match at ESA. The Pios swept the next three on the way to a semifinal appearance at the state tournament.
In 2007, the team was looking to find its groove at 5-5 when ESA came to town and took the first game of the match. Notre Dame won the next three games to take the match and then won 26 of the next 29 matches on the way to the schools first ever state championship.
The 2011 Pios were on the verge of duplicating those scenarios Tuesday at ESA. Though the outcome was not as intended, Notre Dame has a chance to repeat that history after inspired play against the Falcons came up a little short 24-26, 20-25, 25-16, 29-27.
The Pios just couldn’t get over the hump in an opening game that saw ESA take the lead at 4-3 and hold the advantage until Notre Dame battled back to tie it at 24. The Falcons dropped in a point past a shifting defense and then ND was whistled for a lift on game point.
Allison Leonards got the Pios off to a quick start with a kill from the left side followed by a block down winner off the return of Alaina Savoy’s hard to handle serve. After six ties, ESA was able to forge a 21-18 lead before closing out the two game advantage.
Both teams cranked up the defense in game three and kills were hard to come by as the Pios fell behind 7-4. Notre Dame saw numerous digs from back row defenders Mallory Chaisson, Ali Daigle and Leonards to keep points alive and battle to a 13-13 tie.
Megan Malmay got the Pios a lead with a cross court kill and Leonards scorched a kill attempt that ESA popped up to the net. Alex Miller went up to slam it down off the return for a 17-13 Pios lead.
Savoy added a block kill from the middle net and Katherine Kirsch got a short set kill to make it 20-15. Savoy and Kirsch combined to dominate the net from the middle hitter position with 18 kills on the night. Leonards, who had eight kills, put down another spike from the left side and then served an ace on game point.
Notre Dame appeared on the way to forcing a fifth set tiebreaker with Savoy picking up three of her 11 total kills on the way to a 10-6 lead. Kirsch, Leonards and Malmay (8 kills) knocked down winners to build a 17-13 Pios lead.
Serving at 20-14, the Pios gave control back to ESA with a net serve. The Falcons scored five straight points before Malmay stopped the run with a winner at 21-19. Savoy pushed a kill past middle blockers and Leonards took a Miller set all the way from the right sideline to the left outside and sent a kill back cross court for a 24-20 lead.
The Pios then missed two kill opportunities and ESA tied the game at 24. Notre Dame scored to keep a point advantage, but ESA tied it back up at 25, 26 and 27. The Pios then gave up a point on a mishit and ESA dropped a dipping serve over the back row to catch the back line for a match point ace.
Notre Dame also had an impressive showing at the Fountainbleau tournament this weekend, winning three of five matches against stiff competition.