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FH Mercy uses fast starts to sweep AA Gabriel Richard in CHSL action

By: Jeff Dullack, October 9, 2014, 10:10 pm

Farmington Hills – As the No. 3 ranked team in Class A, Farmington Hills Mercy played host to the No. 6 ranked team in Class B, Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard faced off on Thursday night, the Marlins made it a point to get out to a fast start.

Mercy jumped out to commanding leads in each game on Thursday night as the Marlins swept Gabriel Richard in three games, 25-10, 25-14 and 25-19.

Mercy head coach Loretta Vogel said she was pleased with the way her team passed and played defense on Thursday night and added that her team needed to play with caution since Thursday was the first time she had seen Gabriel Richard in person.

“I think passing and serve-receive was a big part for us tonight,” she said. “I think it was pretty consistent and it enables our hitters. I did say to the hitters that we needed to have a few different choices on what we’re trying to run offensively, but that’s for tomorrow. Playing Gabriel Richard, it was the first time I’ve seen them all year, so I was cautious at what they do and I had heard some very nice comments about them, but passing and defense was the name of the game for us.”

The Marlins (39-2) jumped out to an early 5-1 lead in game one after a kill from senior Jenna Lerg and led by as many as seven midway through game one, but Gabriel Richard managed to battle back to trim the Mercy lead down to as low as 20-18 after key kills from Jesse Fannon, Jurnee Tipton and Byrdie Thagard.

But Mercy managed to close out the game scoring the final five points, including one on a key block from Bella McDonald to give the Marlins the 25-18 win in game one.

Mercy then jumped out to another big lead, 10-3 after a Lauren Hunter kill, in game two and never looked back as three kills from Hunter, McDonald and senior Kayla Fisher clinched the 25-14 win and put the Marlins on top 2-0 heading into the third game of the night.

McDonald proved to be a force throughout much of the night for Mercy as she helped spark a handful of Mercy runs and also provided important blocks to slow down the Gabriel Richard attack.

“I think the key for us was definitely our hitting,” said McDonald on her team’s success on Thursday night. “We had to make sure we were smart with our block and where to place it and I thought our passing was really good too.”

Vogel added that she felt McDonald had a big night for her team and noted that it was one of the best games she’s put together for the Marlins.

“It was just a great night for her,” she said. “There were a couple of times where she was used as a blocker, so we made a few adjustments to help her and I thought that was very successful, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen her play better.”

In the third game, Mercy again got out of the gates fast and after a Gabriel Richard kill from Emily Tanski lowered the deficit down to 15-10. But the Marlins sealed the match win behind kills from Lerg and McDonald gave Mercy the 25-19 win in the third game.

“I thought what helped us was our serve,” Said Vogel of what helped her team get out to the fast starts. “So when we started, the strength of the people who went in to serve, we were very confident and we’ve been trying to emphasize that and work on that in practice."