Like Lewis and Clark’s venture west, the Delaware Christian volleyball team continued to discover new territory in the Division IV regional semifinals Wednesday night.
The 17th-ranked Eagles took down 10th-ranked Portsmouth Notre Dame in straight sets — 25-22, 26-24, 25-16 — in Lancaster to advance farther than they have ever advanced.
“Did that just happen,” DCS coach Jackie Boggs asked afterward as the small, but vocal student section celebrated with the team behind her.
“This is a really big deal for our team and our school,” junior Sarah Rosato said. “Coach Boggs is amazing — she’s really led us through this (run).”
The moment wasn’t too big for the Eagles (25-2), who were led by Rosato and Lyssi Snouffer — especially facing a Titans squad that had only lost four sets all season and had all but one match finish in three sets.
“I didn’t tell the girls about that stuff,” Boggs said. “I knew that (Notre Dame was) up there (in the state poll) because I voted for them every week.”
Snouffer led DCS with 16 kills to go with 10 digs and Rosato added 14 kills, five digs and three aces.
“It (feels) good to be someone to go to,” Rosato said. “I’m just putting the ball down — playing volleyball and not over-thinking it.”
Boggs was impressed with her team’s composure throughout.
“They came in calm and cool — we took our time getting over here,” Boggs said. “We were so relaxed before the game.”
Notre Dame featured twin towers Lexi Smith (6-0) and Katie Dettwiller (6-2) in the middle, which meant that DCS had to attack from outside using Snouffer and Rosato, which worked brilliantly.
That also meant that middle-hitters Abbey Evans and Rachel Sullivan were going to have to sacrifice, according to Boggs.
“You have to be willing to do that,” Boggs said. “You’re not going to see as many balls and they did it … they played as a team.”
DCS opened 4-0 in the first set thanks to kills by Evans and Snouffer and a couple of Notre Dame errors.
The Titans (24-2) came roaring back with six straight points and nine out of 11 to gain control. Smith had three kills and a pair of blocks to lead the way.
But the Eagles, led by a pair of Evans kills and a block, scored nine straight points to regain the momentum.
“There are some people that dwell on mistakes, but you have to overcome those mistakes and get back in the game,” Rosato said.
Rosato finished the first set strong with three kills and an ace before Anna Fuller finished off the set with an ace of her own.
Mary Kerins stepped up with aces on three consecutive points to allow DCS to gain a 7-5 advantage early in the second set. She finished with four aces overall.
Smith had a pair of aces and Katie Detwiller added a kill as a part of a 6-0 Notre Dame spurt to take an 11-7 edge.
But, Rosato followed with a block and a kill to lead a five-point surge to put the Eagles back in front.
“(Rosato) has really come on lately,” Boggs said. “She’s been good, but (lately) she’s been the go-to person.”
Snouffer closed out a back-and-forth battle with back-to-back kills to secure the second-set victory for DCS.
Snouffer started the third set just as strong with two kills and an ace for the first three Eagle points. Not to be outdone, Rosato followed with two more kills and an ace as DCS took an early 8-6 lead.
“Lyssi is awesome … she’s a great outside partner,” Rosato said. “She works so hard. I’m a junior and she’s a freshman and I look up to her.”
The Eagles scored eight of 10 points midway through the set to gain control. Kerins had another ace and Evans and Rosato each had kills during the spurt.
Another Snouffer ace got DCS to match point before Sullivan closed it out with a touch shot.
It was a nice comeback effort by setter Brianna Blackburn, who had a couple of errors early, but finished with 33 assists.
“We just didn’t talk about (the errors),” Boggs said. “We try not to focus on the errors just because it doesn’t help. I thought she set an extremely good game … she was as smart as she has been.”
Next up, DCS meets New Philadelphia Tuscarawas Central Catholic in the regional final Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. back in Lancaster.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.