ATTLEBORO -- The mental fortitude on the floor of the unbeaten Bishop Feehan High volleyball team was put to the test by Cardinal Spellman High Thursday in the semifinal round of the Catholic Central League playoffs.
Nevertheless, the Shamrocks managed to carve out a 3-0 victory over the Cardinals, prevailing 25-8, 25-19, 25-23.
Having beaten Cardinal Spellman in five games in their latest outing, the Shamrocks (10-0) were once put to the test.
"You don't want to let a good team back in it and they're a very good team," Bishop Feehan coach Heidi Bruschi said. "You let a good team believe that they can play with you, and they will."
The Shamrocks faced an early 4-2 deficit in the second game when Bishop Feehan saw a 17-9 lead reduced to 21-19 before Maeve Parrish accounted for three services points and Ashley Doo a pair of kills in taking a 2-0 lead.
The Shamrocks then had a 15-9 lead in the third game evaporate as the Cardinals rallied to tie the match at 22 and at 23 before kills by Doo and Anabella Alyacoub accounted for the 24th and 25th points to close out the win.
"Our strategy was a little different," Bruschi explained. "The last time that we played them our offense was not a balanced attack and I felt we needed to get our middle hitters involved."
Bishop Feehan was intent on imposing its will at the outset of the third game, gaining a 5-1 lead on four service points from senior captain Gianna Detorie and a kill by Auriel Kyere. However, three consecutive bad hits allowed Cardinal Spellman to close the gap to 15-13.
Fortunately for the Shamrocks, Cardinal Spellman had a bad service and gained an 18-16 lead. Auriel Kyere then served three points, with two aces, and a Hope Stratton kill to appear to take control at 21-16.
Cardinal Spellman came right back to close to 21-20 before a kill by junior middle hitter Olivia Olson regained a two-point lead for Bishop Feehan. The Shamrocks went a pair of service rotations without a point before a Detorie serve at 24-23 and Alyacoub's kill finished off Cardinal Spellman.
The Shamrocks never trailed and were tied only once at 3-3 during the opening game as Doo, Olson and Auriel Kyere each had three kills.
Five service points from sophomore Adrienne Kyere with a key kill by sister Auriel, along with a block and a kill by Olson, provided Bishop Feehan a 14-4 lead. Cardinal Spellman netted just three points out of seven services in the first game.
Four service points with an ace from Auriel Kyere and kills by Stratton and Olson built an insurmountable 19-5 margin.
"We're quite comfortable playing at home, we've only had a few road games this season," Bruschi said. "It's nice to be in our home gym, we practice here every day."
In the second game, Bishop Feehan stormed ahead 7-4 with four service points from Adrienne Kyere and both Stratton and Auriel Kyere having kills for points.
A trio of service points by senior captain and libero Maria Romsey with an ace and a Detorie kill created a 14-8 lead. The Shamrocks then went three services without taking a point, allowing Cardinal Spellman to close to 21-19.
A bad Cardinal Spellman serve resulted in the Shamrocks' 22nd point, with a side out and Parrish stepping to the service line. A block by Olson and two consecutive kills by Doo closed out the game.
Olson, a 5-foot-10 middle blocker, "did a great job, she kind of put us on her back," Bruschi said.
Auriel Kyere finished with nine kills, while Doo and Olson had eight apiece. Detorie fetched 11 service points, while Adrienne Kyere and Parrish each had five.
"I was pleased with the effort and the mental toughness that we showed," Bruschi said.
The Shamrocks host Saturday's CCL title match against an opponent yet to be determined.