Fontbonne Hall’s dethroning of seven-time defending diocesan champion St. Francis Prep last Friday started earlier this season with two victories that finally pierced the Terriers’ myth of invincibility for the Bonnies.
“It was always like they were some team that was untouchable, no one could beat them,” said junior middle hitter Emily Greenstein. “This year we really broke down that barrier.”
The Bonnies completed the demystification by sweeping St. Francis Prep, 25–17, 25–18, 25–21, in the Brooklyn-Queens final on Oct. 31 at Archbishop Molloy. It is Fontbonne’s third straight victory over the Terriers, but the first time in straight sets.
“After we won the second [set] we knew we could just take them in the third and get it over with,” said junior outside hitter Francesca Castellano.
The title is the first in program history, and the Brooklyn school took home the junior varsity crown as well. The Fontbonne varsity also won the regular season title by beating St. Francis Prep in a tie-breaker match. Bonnies coach Linda Strong could see how relaxed and confident her squad was right from the start of the contest.
“I felt this time that we were so cool and so calm with everything that even if they scored a few on us, we just kept our composure and we regrouped,” she said.
Fontbonne began to put it all together midseason after it got key players like Castellano back from injury. The Bonnies lineup fell into place after that and its depth and its talent began to show.
In the past it was the Terriers who were known for fielding multiple hitters to be concerned about. Fontbonne gave them a taste of what that felt like with Bryn Nagel spreading the ball around to Greenstein, Castellano, Caroline Good and Gabby Breen. St. Francis Prep couldn’t find an answer for them.
“That was what Prep was last year,” Strong said. “We just couldn’t shut them down last year. They had so many different cannons coming at us. I felt that was our team this year.”
The Bonnies now turn their attention to winning a Catholic state title on Sunday at St. Mary’s high school in Buffalo. Fontbonne isn’t sure what to expect in its first appearance in the tournament, which features the winners from the four respective diocesan leagues. One thing Fontbone does know is it is heading there playing its best volleyball of the season.
“I’m feeling really confident for it,” Greenstein said. “Even if we don’t win, that it is okay, because I am really proud of our team and how far we came this year.”