TEWKSBURY — Bishop Fenwick volleyball coach Adam DeBaggis and his Crusaders knew all about Notre Dame Academy’s height, hitting and overall strength heading into last night’s Division 2 state semifinal.
Seeing it across the net last night at Tewksbury High School gave the Crusaders a different perspective, however.
The Cougars took care of Fenwick in three games — 25-19, 25-10, 25-16 — to advance to the state final.
“We’re better than we played, but they just played better than we did,” DeBaggis said after his team wrapped up its best season in program history with a 22-3 record.
“They have everything. I’d be surprised if they don’t win the whole thing. They’re the real deal for sure.”
Senior outside hitter Julia Flynn is one of the best players in the state, and she came as advertised. A powerful player with a big hit, Flynn proved to be an excellent defensive player for Notre Dame as well.
Avery Spaziani, Casey Thorbahn, Megan Barrett and Flynn combined to give the Cougars a noticeable height advantage, and as a team Notre Dame had a little more power than Fenwick expected.
“They had the best overall hitting team. They didn’t have the best hitter we’ve ever seen, but they had four really good hitters,” DeBaggis said. “We haven’t seen four really good hitters on one team all year, so that’s really, really hard. (Fenwick’s) Kate (Lipka) and Maddy (Carmelo) can block a really good hitter, but it’s tough to block three at once.”
Fenwick played tough in the opening game but Notre Dame asserted itself in Game 2, going on two separate six-point runs to take complete control.
“That was unbelievable,” Notre Dame (21-2) coach Josh Shepherd said. “Volleyball is a momentum sport; anytime you can showcase that momentum and really harness it, it works well for you. I thought they did a good job of establishing rhythm, getting it going and then continuing it. We certainly saw a lot of activity in Game 2.”