Panthers defeat Notre Dame, Newtown

Masuk High’s girls volleyball team outlasted visiting Notre Dame-Fairfield, 3-1 (25-21, 25-27, 25-11, 25-19) in its last SWC match.

The Panthers improved to 7-5, winning their third consecutive league match.

“They’re finding their stride midseason,” Masuk coach Bryan Coloma said of his charges, who have won four of five through Friday. Maria Castro-Rodriguez had three aces to go along with 15 digs. Ana Castro-Rodriguez had three digs and 29 assists. Paige Hine had eight kills and a block.

The Lancers battled back from a 23-18 deficit, as well as a 24-20 Masuk advantage, to win game two.

After Masuk won the third game with relative ease, things got tight in the fourth game.

Notre Dame used a 6-0 run to erase an 18-12 deficit and tie the score, before the Panthers closed things out with a 7-1 run. Masuk went ahead on a Notre Dame service error and, after another point, three straight aces by Emily Steffens extended the game four lead to 23-18.

After a Lancer point, the Panthers got kills from Hine and Olivia Mehur to end it.

Strong defense enabled Masuk to jump out to a 10-3 lead in game three. A pair of service points, including an ace, from Allie Lichvar, and Brianna Craig’s service point helped the Panthers build that advantage.

Coloma pointed to the defensive play of libero Maria Castro-Rodriguez, as well as her improved serving game as reasons for success in the Notre Dame match and this season on the whole.

Mary Curry and Olivia Collins had timely service points and kills throughout the Notre Dame match.

A highlight included Steffens getting to a ball heading out of bounds and angling her return over the net and into open space for a point in the third game.

Masuk dropped the Lancers to 7-6 overall after defeating Newtown (6-5), also in four games, on Wednesday. Maria Castro-Rodriguez had aces 17 digs against Newtown. Craig had nine kills and two blocks Ana Castro-Rodriguez had an ace, seven digs and 25 assists.

Coloma is proud not only of these wins but, more so, about the way his team has performed.

“We don’t just measure our success with matches. We measure it with growth and we continue to grow,” Coloma said. “We’re here to play the best we can against every team.”

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