When Linda Strong got home on Oct. 28, she sat down and almost cried. Her favored Fontbonne Hall squad was upended by Archbishop Molloy in the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Division I semis and the Bonnies coach compared the feeling afterward to losing her best friend.
“I don’t think as a coach I’ve ever been as upset as I was that night,” Strong said. “I was devastated. I just felt like we didn’t even put an effort into that game. I really felt that we nonchalanted that game from the beginning and Molloy was so hungry. They played incredible.”
The next day, Strong called a team meeting and no one touched a volleyball. Instead, players just spoke and listened. Last Saturday the Bonnies played well in a scrimmage with Midwood and John F. Kennedy and Tuesday, Nov. 2, they started looking like their old selves.
In an elimination match, Fontbonne defeated Mary Louis, 25-18, 25-13, 25-15, in the Brooklyn/Queens third-place match at St. Edmund Prep in Brooklyn. The Bonnies now advance to the CHSAA Class AA states held at York College on Nov. 13 and 14. In other years, though, the Nov. 4 match would have been their last, but the host league gets three teams in the tournament.
“If we weren’t hosting the states, that would have been our last game of the year,” Strong said. It would have been go home, that’s it.”
After the loss to Molloy, Fontbonne (9-3) made some changes. Strong moved libero Victoria Starace to outside hitter and moved freshman Kristen Sullivan, just up from the junior varsity, to libero. That helped against Mary Louis (5-8). Starace had eight kills and Sullivan provided 12 digs.
“It’s awesome,” Strong said of the change. “I really needed [Sullivan] for serve receive and passing and Victoria gives [setter] Katie [Lang] another option for swinging.”
Lang had 32 assists and six aces, junior middle hitter Lauren Ganun had 13 kills, seven aces and two blocks and Amanda Glodowski had 10 kills for Fontbonne.
The Bonnies thought they could have challenged St. Francis Prep in Thursday’s Brooklyn/Queens final, but they’ll have to settle for a state tournament berth. For the next 10 days, Strong plans on scrimmaging teams like Brooklyn Tech, Midwood and Cardozo to get ready.
“It has to be about all of us together as one unit,” Strong said. “I really thought we played well as a unit today. That’s the only way we can win.”