There’s a banner hanging up inside the gym at Fontbonne Hall listing the years of the Bonnies’ girls volleyball championships. The season accompanying the section labeled CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens titles is 1994.
Coach Linda Strong doesn’t let her players forget it. She refers to it before practices, after matches, every chance she gets.
The year 1994 is etched in the Bonnies’ brains.
“It’s our inspiration,” senior outside hitter Kara Egan said.
Fontbonne Hall got one step closer to achieving its dream with an epic, 25-23, 21-25, 20-25, 25-18, 25-20 win against Mary Louis in the Brooklyn/Queens semifinals last Thursday night at Bishop Kearney HS.
The Bonnies are the first squad from Brooklyn to make the championship match since Kearney won it all in 2001. They will meet St. Francis Prep in the finals next Thursday at Christ the King HS.
Fontbonne (13-0) went down, 2-1, in sets, but never got down, as has been its way all season long. The Bonnies also dropped the first set twice against Kearney in victories, the first one snapping the Tigers’ 14-year, 183-match winning streak.
“If anybody was going to pull it out, it’s going to be these girls,” Strong said.
The third set, like the entire match, was snare-drum tight. Fontbonne controlled most of it, but Mary Louis (8-4) crept within 23-20 on a kill by Samantha Shevach. Egan followed with a kill, though, and sophomore Lauren Ganun, who enjoyed her second straight memorable performance, finished the Hilltoppers with a block at the net.
“When she first came on the team, she was very intimidated,” senior libero Justina Johnson said of Ganun, who had eight kills and two blocks.
Nothing is intimidating Fontbonne now. Not even facing two-time defending Brooklyn/Queens champion St. Francis Prep in the finals. The Bonnies took a set off the Terriers in last year’s semifinals %u2013 the only league set SFP lost all season. Strong and assistant coach Kristina Healey, who played on that 1994 team, have their girls believing they could do just about anything.
“After all we’ve accomplished, we’re like the Dream Team,” senior setter Sarah McCarthy said. “We can’t be stopped.”
Once again, there was no true star for Fontbonne. Egan had 18 kills and 30 digs, McCarthy had 12 assists, nine kills and six aces and Johnson had 40 digs. Brianna Johnston added 29 digs and four aces, sophomore Katie Lang had eight kills and 33 assists and Amanda Glodowski chipped in eight kills.
“It’s a total team effort, not individual,” Strong said. “That’s a big thing.”
Healey was in tears after the match. She could barely contain herself, especially when a few players said they wanted to win it for her. This group, she said, reminds her of the 1994 squad.
“Back then, it was the same dedication, the same goals,” Healey said.
Fontbonne has already knocked off its bitter rival Kearney twice, won its first CHSAA Brooklyn title in 14 years and, with the semifinals win, earned a berth into the CHSAA Class AA state tournament %u2013 the No. 1 goal at the season’s outset. And here the Bonnies are,still going strong.
“We’re still making history,” Strong said.