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GIRLS' VOLLEYBALL: Academy of Notre Dame Wins 7th Consecutive PAISAA Championship in Final Against Germantown Academy

By Dan Mc Carty (photos & video by Dan McCarty), 11/06/19, 9:30PM EST


Academy of Notre Dame 2019 PAISAA Champions

PHILADELPHIA--The Academy of Notre Dame volleyball team has taken home yet another Pennsylvania Independent Scholastic Athletic Association (PAISAA) trophy. A 3-0 rout of Germantown Academy (GA) in the final round of the PAISAA playoffs Friday, November 1, at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy resulted in their 7th consecutive championship.

Although it was a shutout, Notre Dame won by scores of 25-23 in all three sets making it just one-point shy of the narrowest of margins each time.

Trailing by a score of 17-14 late in the third set, GA called for a time out. The Patriots managed to tie it, 23-23, and used another time out when Notre Dame took a 24-23 lead on the brink of the championship.

The Fighting Irish just fought until it was over. After the time out, the match resumed and 19 seconds later, senior Riley Shaak sealed the game-winning kill and it was time to celebrate.

Academy of Notre Dame vs. Germantown Academy 2019 PAISAA Championship

Despite the outcome of this game, GA has a lot to be proud of. Last year, the Patriots made it to the semifinal round in the PAISAA tournament.   This season GA had an impressive season going 17-2 overall and ending with a league record of 7-1 sharing the 2019 Inter-Ac Title with Notre Dame.  

“I’m honestly really proud of this team,” said junior captain Natalie Schildt. “This year is a huge improvement. I’m so glad we all got to share it (referring to the Inter-Ac Title).”

“We really improved through the whole entire season,” said senior captain Caitlyn Priore. “It’s nice to see how much we grew, not only as individuals but as a team.”

Germantown Academy 2019 PAISAA 2nd Runner-UP

GA captains Caityln Priore (L) and Natalie Schildt talk about their team's chemistry

Priore (29 assists, eight digs), Schildt (25 kills, 13 digs), senior captain Kelli Ramer (12 digs), juniors Becca Booth (five kills) and Colleen Gibbons (five digs) as well as freshman Fiona McKenna (four kills, nine digs) all paced the Patriots on the afternoon.

“We did a great job,” said Germantown Academy head coach Chris Chung. “It was a great season, especially for our seniors.”

Shaak led the way for Notre Dame with a total of 15 kills. Senior Sara McDougall added nine kills. Senior Maddie Donaphon served great on the day with five aces.

Donaphon has also prevailed on defense throughout her entire high school career. This season, she made school history as the first player to seal 1,000 digs. She will be taking her volleyball career to the collegiate level next year at Northwestern University.

“It was such an amazing day,” said Donaphon. “All my teammates made it so special. I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Shaak also registered a milestone this year. The North Carolina State bound player had her 1,000th career kill making it an extra special year for her Fighting Irish and the school community.

“My 1000th kill was amazing,” said Shaak. “It was probably one of the best days of my life. It’s something I have been working on for a very long time. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.”

Shaak was recently named by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) as one of the top 150 girls’ high school volleyball players in the country as an Honorable Mention to the Under Armour Girls High School All-American Teams. Shaak was only one of three high school players in Pennsylvania to achieve this national recognition.

Maddie Donaphon makes school history with her 1000 th career dig in game against Baldwin School on 10/19 (picture twitter @NDVillanova)

Riley Shaak makes school history with her 1000th career kill in match against Merion Mercy on 10/9. (picture twitter @NDVillanova)

The Academy of Notre Dame has won 6 Inter-Ac Championships including this year's shared title with GA.  The Irish had an 18-3 overall record going 7-1 in the league suffering their only lose to the Patriots earlier in the season.

Head coach Mike Sheridan has been at the helm of this team for 16 seasons. He lauded his team and senior leadership for handling the pressure of being regarded as the team to beat.

“Obviously, I am extremely proud of the team.  The pressure to continue winning consecutive PAISAA state and Inter Ac league championships seems to get greater each year, as does the level of competition.  Yet, with 8 seniors this season, they provided the team with a high level of playing maturity and experience.  That, in combination with the leadership of co-captains Riley Shaak and Maddie Donaphon gave the team stability, consistency and a great attitude and approach to the season, both on and off the court, in addition to great playing talents,” said Sheridan.

Sheridan is well aware of the task to keep his team’s winning streak alive as well as the challenges of league opponents which are getting tougher each season.   

“Knowing that, we play a strong non-league schedule, including against top area teams as well as in Delaware and New Jersey.  We also play in the two-day New Jersey State Challenge Tournament against state champions from NJ, DE, CN, DC and NY. The belief is that playing strong competition will make our team stronger, even if it means having some losses on our record,” said Sheridan.

ND captains Maddie Donaphon (L) and Riley Shaak talk about how they prepared for this game and season.

The Irish will be losing 8 seniors this year to graduation, but according to Sheridan his team will be ready to compete.

“In the past we have lost as many as 9 Seniors with only 1 returning starter, yet kept the consecutive winning streaks intact,” said Sheridan.  “Next season we will have 4 players returning with extensive varsity playing time, including a setter and MB who started varsity for 2 years. So, with some hard work, dedication and positive attitudes that I am confident will be provided by the players, the new challenges of next season are expected to be exciting and hopefully rewarding.”