A thrilling, five-set victory in late October over The Academy of Notre Dame marked Agnes Irwin varsity volleyball’s first Inter-Ac title in nine years. “We’ve been chasing [Notre Dame] for a long time,” said coach Sarah Lawrence. The closely contested match saw both sides trading scores back and forth, and the title came down to the final set. Coach Lawrence cited team unity and experience as the deciding factors in the end. “This team of girls has been playing together since they were freshmen. They put the best versions of themselves on the court to defeat the team that [stood] in our way,” said Lawrence.
The victory was not Irwin’s first win over Notre Dame this year. “We won earlier in the season against Notre Dame for the first time in a long time,” said AIS senior and co-captain, Jenna Zwilling. “That win got us thinking, we could do this, we could win the title,” Zwilling said. AIS senior and team captain Golda Mehl scored the winning point to cement the 2021 Inter-Ac title. Mehl shared, “We were confident as a team. And part of why we won was the amazing AIS crowd cheering us on.” Lawrence agreed, “A key component to our success was the energy and support from the JV players and our AIS fans. They were awesome!”
After securing the Inter-Ac title, AIS varsity volleyball competed in the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association (PAISSA) championship tournament, where they defeated The George School in the quarter finals, Germantown Academy in the semi-finals, and placed as the runner up against Notre Dame in the finals on November 5.
Coach Lawrence attributed some of the success of the winning season to the incorporation of a strength and conditioning coach. “In the past, we got tired and ran out of steam in that fifth set. But with focused strength and conditioning, you could see the girls’ endurance in that final game. We didn’t get tired,” she said.
The seniors were a pivotal part of this year’s team success and Inter-Ac title. Looking to the future, Zwilling is confident that the team’s underclassmen are ready to carry the torch. “They are some of the best volleyball players I know, and they are also some of the best people I know.”