The week is labeled “Chatard Week” and starts with the volleyball match between Indianapolis Cathedral and Bishop Chatard and ends with the two schools meeting under the lights for Friday night football.
But the volleyball match between the cross-town rivals comes with more weight than spectators might realize. For the Fighting Irish, the ‘W’ would mean continuing the tradition of excellence and extending their record to 8-0. But for head coach Jean Kesterson, the ‘W’ means practices are paying off.
“Our goals are the same as last year: to try and get better with every practice,” Kesterson said. “We want to improve each week, and the wins will take care of themselves. There’s a culture here. The girls trust each other and are embracing the grind.”
Following Cathedral’s 2015 perfect season, 4A state championship title and national title, the Fighting Irish graduated six seniors, leaving opponents to wonder if this year would be different.
While they lost Megan Sloan to Louisville, Audrey Adams who went to Xavier University, Meaghan Koors to Indiana University, Anna Jensen to Ball State University, and Kenndell White who is co-captain as a freshman at Penn State, but that isn’t keeping this year’s squad down. In fact. Kesterson was quick to point out to MaxPreps that the 2016 team still has a core group from last year’s national team.
That showed Tuesday night as the Lady Irish breezed their way to victory in three straight sets (25-14, 25-12, 25-13). Senior All-American and Northwestern-commit Nia Robinson led Cathedral with 13 kills as the Trojans struggled against Cathedrals offense. Following Robinson’s lead were juniors Emily Kleck with five kills and Mattison Norris and Joey Landeros with four kills each. Defensively, seniors Payton White (an Auburn commit) and Cassie Brooks (an Evansville commit) held their own with 13 combined digs.
The Trojans never came stood a chance against Cathedral. While the cross-town rivals have met before, the atmosphere surrounding this match-up was intense. Having faith in her team, Kesterson sat on the bench while her team warmed up for the match. In the end, it was the hard work and consistency that led Cathedral to victory.
Cathedral continues to take this season one game at a time. Both Robinson and Payton White expressed the need for constant improvements and things they can individually work on to help make their team better.
“Every day is a process,” Robinson said after the game. “Each day we’re working hard and getting better. And we’re not the same team that we were last year, but we’re working hard to be even better.”
In similar fashion, this year’s squad has hopes of repeating the state championship title. Opponents from around Indianapolis will continue to look for weaknesses in Kesterson’s team. But if Tuesday’s game was an indication of where this team is athletically, then greater things are yet to come for the Lady Irish.