High School Sports


Nov. 3, 2006

Assumption seniors make their own mark


When Assumption High School feted the volleyball team on Monday afternoon, two days after the Rockets won their third straight state championship, eight players finally enjoyed the spotlight that had been reserved for seniors each of the previous two years.

“Before, it was kind of like we were celebrating for them,” Kirstie Brangers said. “Now we were celebrating for ourselves.”

Brangers and senior classmates Rebecca Bloemer, Kaitlin Craven, Jessica Diehl, Emily Galbraith, Kaitlan Harris, Sara Hayden, and Leah Meffert had waited for their collective turn to lead the Rockets to a state title, and they made the most of it when the time came. Assumption, ranked No. 2 nationally by PrepVolleyball.com, lost just two matches this season, both to No. 1 Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach, Calif.

“It’s special because a lot of us waited to get to play,” Meffert said. “We finally got our chance to go out there and do it together.”

It was not a chance they were willing to miss. The Rockets already had won 12 of the last 14 state titles under uber-coach Ron Kordes before taking the court at the Frankfort Convention Center last Friday, and he got the impression that the seniors were feeling the pressure to secure No. 13.

“You could cut it with a knife,” Kordes said. “They didn’t want to be the ones to lose. But I have to give them credit for getting it done.

The Rockets swept Newport Central Catholic 25-15, 25-14 in the first round on Friday, then played rival Mercy in the quarterfinals. The Jaguars won the second game in that match, dealing Assumption its first such setback against an in-state team all season, but the Rockets eventually advanced with a 25-18, 21-25, 25-21 victory.

Greenwood offered little challenge in the semifinals, where Assumption rolled to a 25-13, 25-8 win. But St. Henry was a different story in the final. The Rockets also lost the second game in that match before pulling out a 25-17, 23-25, 25-14 win.

“This was particularly pleasing,” Kordes said. “Last year’s team went undefeated, lost three games all year, and was crowned national champion in the polls. Where do you go from there? There’s not much room. I know there was a lot of pressure on these kids. We had a lot coming back - we had eight seniors - but most of them had been waiting for their turns to step into roles. So I didn’t know what was going to happen. I’m so pleased for them.”

Brangers was named the Most Valuable Player, and Meffert, Craven and junior Sloane Donhoff also were chosen for the All-Tournament Team.

According to Craven, the players had few - if any - doubts after those uncharacteristic losses against Mercy and St. Henry.

“I knew the team would fight back,” she said. “We don’t give up. We always fight back until the end.”

They can thank Assumption volleyball tradition for that kind of confidence, a tradition that now includes them.

“This is something that I can always look back to,” Brangers said. “I’ll always be a part of Assumption volleyball, a part of the program. I left a mark here. We all left a mark here.”

As for Kordes, the architect of it all, he’s showing no signs that any of this is getting old for him.

“The state championship is only a couple days old, and I’ve started looking toward next year and thinking about what the team will look like,” he said. “It’s still enjoyable.”