The key match this season for the Pallotti Prep volleyball team may have been a loss, according to third-year head coach Scott Fifield.
In early September the Panthers faced Padua Academy, a strong team from Delaware. Even though Pallotti Prep lost, 3-0, the Panthers won a non-league game at Elizabeth Seton two days later and then advanced to the title game of the McDonogh Invitational on Sept. 17.
“Padua was like a Division I team. But we came out and competed with them,” Fifield said.
After winning just two matches in 2009, the first year under Fifield, Pallotti Prep is 13-7 overall and is scheduled to play Nov. 9 in the Maryland/DC Private Schools tournament, most likely against Holy Cross or Maryland School for the Deaf.
The Panthers are led by senior hitter Victoria Johnson, who is closing in on 300 kills for the season. Another top player is junior Carissa Hill, who has nearly 300 digs.
“They are the two players that our team revolves around,” Fifield said. “At least Carissa will be back next year. We have to find a way to replace Victoria. We have some talent coming back."
Johnson is interested in becoming a chef and may attend Johnson & Wales in North Carolina. That is one of few culinary schools with a volleyball program, according to Fifield.
The Panthers ended regular-season play fifth in the IAAM and played at No. 4 seed at Notre Dame Prep on Tuesday in the league playoffs. Pallotti Prep lost, 3-2, and had a call overturned against them on match point.
“I was proud of the players,” Fifield said. “They fell behind 2-1 (in sets) and fought back and won the fourth set even though they were not playing that great. It is tough to consistently play from behind. Your luck runs out” eventually.
The Panthers were 9-13 overall and 1-9 in league play last season. Another key player for Pallotti Prep is senior Judy Onyegbado, also a hitter who has expressed interest in attending Catholic University in Washington, D.C. Another senior on the team is Emily Faulkner, who has also played soccer and basketball at the school.
This year the Panthers were 5-4 in the IAAM in the regular-season.
Laurel football at home Saturday
The Laurel High football team will host DuVal High of Lanham on Saturday in its last home game of the season. The Spartans are coming off a 47-0 loss to Wise, ranked among the top 10 teams this week in The Washington Post poll. The Spartans are 2-6 overall and end the season Nov. 5 at Flowers.
Pallotti Prep football is also 2-6 and plays Friday at Boys' Latin at 3 p.m.
Pallotti Prep soccer ends year
The boys soccer team at Pallotti Prep lost, 2-0, to Park on Wednesday. The loss kept the Panthers from making the playoffs.
Pallotti Prep grads with college hoop teams
Mariah Hankton, a 2010 Pallotti Prep graduate, is a freshman on the women’s basketball team at Division II Southern Connecticut State.
Chizoba Ekedigwe, another 2010 Pallotti Prep grad, is a freshman center on the women's basketball team at Division I Seton Hall of the Big East. The Pirates begin the season at home Nov. 11 against Florida Gulf Coast.