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Rising to the Occasion

October 13, 2013 - Matthew Peaslee
One of my favorite cliches, especially when it comes to describing a sporting event, is "rising to the occasion."

As an athlete (I'll use that term loosely and just for argument's sake), but moreso as a spectator, any time a big, must-win game was next on the docket I knew the opposition was getting my best best effort. Again, moreso, it was the team that which had my rooting interest that gave the valiant effort.

Some examples in recent memory include the 2012 Orange Bowl with West Virginia running over Clemson, 70-33, and the National League Wild Card Game where the Pirates eclipsed the Reds, 6-2. On Saturday, at a venue not as big as Sun Life Stadium or as beautiful as PNC Park, the Bellaire St. John volleyball team rose to the occasion against Weirton Madonna, snapping the Blue Dons' 16-game winning streak.

"For the stage and what was at stake, yes," Irish coach Carrie Ramsey said when asked if it was the best game her team has played all year.

The Crimson Court inside Steubenville High School was a grand stage for St. John in its first Ohio Valley Athletic Conference tournament championship. Quite the accomplishment for Ramsey in her first year as varsity head coach.

"They played their best," she said, "like I knew they could play."

As for the Blue Dons, it was not their best and head coach Jennifer Ewusiak was the first to admit that.

"Not at all," she said. "We weren't getting our passes down to our centers and our hitters were really lacking energy."

The OVAC championship game wasn't just a grand stage for the upstart Irish, Madonna was trying to make history, too. The Blue Dons were in the title game for the third-straight year and attempting back-to-back championship wins for the first time in school history. But they fell in two sets, 25-17, 25-22.

"It was just a long day," Ewusiak said.

The setback in the tournament won't derail an already ambitious season for Madonna. The Blue Dons are 20-3 and captured the OVAC Class A regular season crown. They have three regular season matches left, including the City Championship with Weir High on Oct. 17. The two-win Red Riders gave them a good run in five sets on Oct. 10, which served as a tune up for the weekend tournament.

There's still opportunities for the Blue Dons to rise to their own occasion.


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