Fall sports

Sacred Heart Greenwich sweeps FAA foe Holy Child for eighth consecutive victory

Photo by David Fierro: From left to right, Martina Bernal, Kaitlyn Robinson and Emilia Bernal get set at the net for Sacred Heart during its match against School of the Holy Child on October 24, 2022, in Greenwich.

The streak began with a three-set victory against Taft School on October 1 and continued when Sacred Heart swept past FAA opponent School of the Holy Child on Monday.

The 3-0 win extended Sacred Heart Greenwich’s volleyball team’s winning streak to eight matches and continued is perfect month of October.

Undefeated in all eight of its October matches, Sacred Heart ran its overall record to 11-5 and FAA mark to 8-1 with a dominant 25-8, 25-12, 25-12 win over visiting Holy Child. The Tigers are in second place in the FAA. King School stands in first place with an FAA record of 7-0.

“I’m really proud of the way our team has been able to keep the momentum,” Sacred Heart senior co-captain Martina Bernal said. “From the beginning of the season, we had kind of a slow start. But I’m proud with how we were able to gain that momentum back.”

The Tigers certainly rode the momentum in Monday’s match against the Gryphons. They passed the serve well, efficiently ran their offense and received contributions from multiple athletes.

Sacred Heart’s back row players get ready to receive a serve from School of the Holy Child.

“I am so proud of this team,” Tigers junior co-captain/setter Emilia Bernal said. “We have come a long way from adjusting to not having our setter and now I feel like we’re getting back in a rhythm.”

For the Tigers, their success is all about having fun and enjoying the moment.

“How much fun we’re having on the court, at the end of the day, that’s what counts,” Emilia Bernal. “That’s why I’m so happy to be a part of this team. Today’s match was so much fun.”

Against Holy Child, Martina Bernal, an outside hitter, registered seven kills, four aces and three digs, while sophomore outside hitter Grace Gapen recorded six kills, six assists, five digs and one ace for Sacred Heart.

Sacred Heart reacts after winning a point in its matchup against Holy Child on October 24, 2022.

“We’re all trying to work on different plays,” said Gapen, one of the Tigers’ most powerful hitters. “We have our middle running a slide, our outside running faster sets and I think that’s really helping. We communicated very well, that was really helping us.”

Emilia Bernal tallied four kills, 19 assists and six digs, while junior middle hitter Kaitlyn Robinson had four kills and two digs to also pace the winning effort.

The home team’s play didn’t drop off after decisively winning the first two games against Holy Child. A kill by Gapen gave the Tigers a 5-3 lead in the third set. Gapen notched several more kills during the final set, while Robinson and junior middle hitter Jane Murphy enabled SHG to pull away with well-placed kills.

“We’ve done really well in FAAs and we’ve been having so much fun,” Robinson said. “We’ve had a good winning streak so far, so we’re looking to continue that throughout the rest of the season.”

“We practice really hard and we try to put everything together in the games, so we’re working hard as a team and having fun,” Robinson noted. “Enjoying our time together helps us.”

Photo by David Fierro: From left to right, Grace Gapen, Ana Pizzibono and Martina Bernal get ready in the back row for Sacred Heart during an FAA matchup against visiting School of the Holy Child on Oct. 24, 2022.

Murphy added four kills and one dig, freshman Brianna Timlin had four aces and one dig, while eighth grader Ana Pizzibono notched four digs and four aces. The youngest member of the squad, Pizzibono has helped spark the team from her libero position, digging up balls, playing solid defense and enabling the team to get its offense moving.

Junior middle hitter Emerson Eckert had two kills and sophomore opposite hitter Josephine Prinz added a kill for the victors. During its eight match winning streak, Sacred Heart has defeated Taft School, Greenwich Country Day School, Hopkins School, Greenwich Academy, Kent School, Masters School, Greens Farms Academy and Holy Child. Six of those victories came by a 3-0 score.

Photo by David Fierro: Emilia Bernal is a junior co-captain of Sacred Heart’s volleyball team.

“We are just focusing on our side of the court and bringing our game no matter who we play,” Emilia Bernal noted. “Holy Child – we have a lot of respect for them. They’re a great school and have great coaches and players. I’m really excited for what’s to come and keep improving and growing with this team.”

“Volleyball is a game that’s about keeping energy up, which is really important so I’m really proud of the way we were able to have fun today,” Martina Bernal said.

Sacred Heart Greenwich coach Beth Wilson-Jordan was impressed with her team’s execution and teamwork in their latest triumph.

“We took the opportunity to work on stuff we needed to work on and we had little challenges along the way to keep it going,” Wilson-Jordan said. “Defensively, I thought Holy Child did really well. It was more challenging for us to find empty holes. I’m happy with the way the season is going.”

Martina Bernal is a senior captain of the Sacred Heart Greenwich volleyball team.

Sacred Heart hosts Taft on Wednesday, then visits Hotchkiss School on Saturday. They will host St. Luke’s School on Nov. 2, before playing host to Miss Porter’s School on Senior Day on Nov. 5. The FAA Tournament commences on Nov. 7 and of course, the Tigers have high aspirations for the postseason.

“Playoffs should be great,” Robinson said. “We were just having so much fun playing offense. That’s what helps us. We’re enjoying our time together and putting what we work on in practice all together.”

Photo by David Fierro: Kaitlyn Robinson has helped power Sacred Heart from her position at middle hitter.

Said Gapen: “Our hope is to keep going forward and keep winning. I’m ready for the challenge of playing the boarding schools. I like the boarding schools, it challenges us to do better.”

Grace Gapen has turned in a standout sophomore season for Sacred Heart’s volleyball team.

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