The St. Pat's volleyball team had a spotty effort on Tuesday night against Mullen. But the peaks outnumbered the valleys as the Lady Irish dispatched Mullen in four sets at the McGahan Activities Center.
"It was good for the girls to see some adversity like this," St. Pat's coach Shelly Byrn said of the 25-21, 25-14, 22-25, 25-17 win. "I didn't expect us to sweep Mullen tonight. Mullen's a good team and they played us well."
Coming into Tuesday, both teams were coming off of tournament wins from the weekend. St. Pat's won the Sutherland Invite and Mullen took the tournament in Brady. But the Irish started out passive while the Broncos looked much more assertive.
Mullen (11-5) took a 7-2 lead in the first set after a kill by Jessica Lovitt and the Lady Broncos didn't let up. They stayed in control and built a lead of 19-11 after Rachel Hoesing served for an ace.
"We came out a little slow and Mullen had full sails," said Byrn.
St. Pat's (15-0) chipped away a little bit and then Shelby Allberry took the serve after Samantha Byrn's kill with her team down 21-16.
It started with a block from Brittany Lawrence. Then Mullen committed a net violation. Mikayla Daniels followed the net violation with a hitting error and it was 21-19.
Lawrence made a kill to to bring the Irish within one and then Allberry tied the game with an ace. Allberry then got another ace with a serve that landed on the back line and St. Pat's had the lead.
It became 23-21 after another kill by Lawrence and then Allberry served for another ace to give the Lady Irish setpoint. Then on the ensuing play, Clara Vinton hit the ball wide on the left side to give St. Pat's their 10th consecutive point and the first set.
"I am proud of the girls (for coming back)," Byrn said. "They were down and Shelby served us right back in."
The Irish continued on in the second set, scoring the first four points with Brook Boucher serving. The Broncos made a little run of their own and closed within 7-6 after Lovitt made a kill.
But St. Pat's scored the next three after that and from there, the Lady Irish never looked back.
The Lady Irish looked poised to sweep after Boucher served for a 3-0 lead. But Mullen came back in a hurry to take an 8-6 lead after an ace by Madison Tomlinson.
Both teams went back and forth, trading points until the Lady Broncos got a lead of 19-16 and held it the rest of the way to force a fourth set.
Byrn said that Mullen just took the set from her team.
"We just dug ourselves a hole," she said. "Mullen did not have one hitting error in the fourth set."
St. Pat's got another sizable lead to begin the fourth, going up 5-1 after a kill by Lawrence. The Broncos fought back again to take a 7-6 lead after Ally Ginkens made a kill, But after that, it was all Irish.
The Lady Irish went on a mini run to go up 11-8 and then Bree Saner ran off four points to make it 16-9. Mullen didn't have an answer and St. Pat's put it away right there.
"We started more aggressively in the fourth set," said Byrn.
When Mullen refused to give in to the Irish's size and might at the net, St. Pats' ability to serve the ball became the key to the game. Allberry and Boucher combined for 26 points in service on the night.
"Shelby and Brook had a good night serving," Byrn said.