St. Joseph’s Academy put some heat on St. Thomas More but was unable to pull off a win over the two-time reigning Division II volleyball champions on Tuesday night at St. Joseph’s.
The Redstickers dropped the first two sets before fighting back and were within two points of forcing a fifth set. Instead, St. Thomas More took advantage of two St. Joseph’s errors to close out the match for a 3-1 win.
St. Thomas More (10-0) and St. Joseph’s are both retooling their lineups this season after graduation losses. The Cougars, who have won 91 of 94 matches since the 2021 season, didn’t appear to miss a beat against the Redstickers (5-5) after winning by scores of 25-19, 25-16, 19-25 and 25-23.
“There were too many times we got down six-plus points. That’s hard to come back from,” SJA coach Sivi Miller said. “So I was proud of the way we chipped away to get back in it at the end. Coming out of a timeout with a missed serve really hurt us, but we’ll just keep fighting.”
That missed serve came in the fourth set. After trailing 22-17, St. Joseph’s rallied to tie the score 23-23, prompting STM coach Jessica Burke to call a timeout. After that, Abby Francise’s serve didn’t clear the net, and Kaylie McKinney’s hitting error brought the match to a close.
Gracie Mann led St. Joseph’s with nine kills and added 10 digs. Addie Uter and McKinney each had six kills, and Francise had a team-high 23 digs.
For St. Thomas More, Ryhan Miciotto had nine kills, 15 digs and 15 assists. Claire Reed (eight kills), Eleanor Guidry (26 digs) and Emma Broussard (19 assists) also were factors.
“It was a great match. I thought we played well,” Burke said. “We had mismatches in some places, and I thought we were able to overcome that. St. Joseph’s is a great program, so it’s always fun to come here and play.”
In the first set, St. Thomas More pulled away after the score was tied 18-18. Capped by Reed’s kill, the Cougars won seven of the last eight points.
St. Joseph’s fell behind early on its way to losing the second set, but the Redstickers fought back in the third.
Sparked by five kills from Mann, St. Joseph’s built a 23-16 lead. A St. Thomas More hitting error and a quick-set kill from Blanche Coleman finished out the set win for the Redstickers.
“We knew going in we were playing a very good program. We’re going to keep moving things around until we find something that works,” Miller said. “We moved a lot of players around during the match and the girls responded well to that.”