Kara Egan took a swing from the back row and the ball hit right on the white tape at the top of the net. There it hung for seconds, but it seemed like minutes, hours even.
“I thought it was going to fall on our side,” the Fontbonne Hall senior outside hitter said.
It was a pivotal point late in the fourth set. And when the ball landed untouched on Bishop Kearney’s side of the court, it left no doubt what would happen next: Fontbonne was going to make history.
The Bonnies reeled off the next eight in a row en route to a 20-25, 25-20, 25-15, 25-12 victory against Kearney on Wednesday in Bensonhust. The Tigers had won 183 straight CHSAA Brooklyn matches, a streak that lasted 14 years. And when Brianna Johnston’s serve fell for an ace in the fourth set, it was all over.
“It means everything,” Bonnies senior setter Sarah McCarthy said. “This has been 14 years in the making.”
Fontbonne (6-0) has had its chances before. The Bonnies went to five sets with the Tigers twice last season and in their first meeting Fontbonne actually had a 2-0 set lead before losing three in a row.
“I thought we could have won last year,” Egan said. “We were just nervous.”
Not Egan, though. She said she wasn’t nervous then and she wasn’t nervous Wednesday %u2013 in fact, she has no nerves before or during matches at all. Good thing, because Fontbonne was able to ride the cool Egan’s hot hand all afternoon. She had 13 kills and was dominant at times, including the fourth set.
“She was swinging so well,” Fontbonne coach Linda Strong said. “At one point, I was like, ‘Why are we even setting anyone else?’”
Kearney’s undoing came in the third set. After coughing up a big lead in the second, the Tigers (4-1) struggled with serve receive and defense. Part of it was they were frustrated that the Bonnies’ defense was able to deal with their powerful attacks. Libero Justina Johnson was a big part of that %u2013 she flew around the court, racking up 27 digs.
“We underestimated their defense,” Kearney coach Kristin Wulff said. “They picked up everything we hit at them.”
If Kearney came undone in the third set, the Tigers completely fell apart in the fourth. Fontbonne got out to a 9-1 lead and didn’t look back. The score was 17-12 when Egan’s net ball found the other side of the court. McCarthy had a huge kill, sending the ball beautifully to the back left corner to make it 22-12.
“I was pretty confident,” Strong said. “I knew this was the team that was going to do it.”
McCarthy had 16 assists, 11 digs and five kills and Amanda Glodowski had six kills and two blocks. Katie Lang had 14 assists and five digs, Lauren Ganun had two blocks and Egan, as if her attacking heroics weren’t enough, added nine digs.
The two teams don’t meet again for almost a month %u2013 on Oct. 22, the final day of the regular season. Until then at least, the Bonnies should be in the driver’s seat in CHSAA Brooklyn.
“Fontbonne is definitely the team to beat,” McCarthy said.
And no one has been able to say that about girls volleyball in Brooklyn for 14 years.