DeSantis reflects on playing with classmates as Mooney, West Branch seasons end
By Tom Williams
One of the best thing about Cardinal Mooney ace volleyball player Autumn DeSantis’ senior season was playing with five other classmates.
“I didn’t get to play with them my freshman year and that was a little upsetting,” said DeSantis, a four-year varsity starter. “This was the first time, I think, we were all able to play to together and it was a lot of fun. They helped a lot,” DeSantis said. “It makes this even more sad.”
DeSantis was referring to Wednesday’s Division II district semifinal against Crestwood at West Branch High School. Crestwood swept the match (25-18, 25-17, 25-19) to end the Cardinals’ season.
In the other semifinal, West Branch was eliminated in four games by Marlington (25-13, 21-25, 25-9, 25-14).
Saturday, Marlington (21-3) will play Crestwood (20-4) for the district championship.
“Crestwood is a good team,” Mooney head coach Tony Gorvet said. “We could have been better, we had five seniors on the floor so there was a chance to make a run.
“We lost to a good team, that’s all you can say,” said Gorvet, the Cardinals’ head coach for eight seasons. “They played a lot better than we did.”
Freshman Elana Faldowski and sophomore Angela Masiello each scored eight points to lead the Red Devils. The Cardinals (17-7) struggled to get the ball past junior Ellen Cox and senior Jade Bretz, who played well at the net.
“We were very inconsistent — we lost to a better team,” Gorvet said.
In addition to DeSantis, Gorvet started seniors Maria Pelini, Kaylin Bowman, Bella Stanko and Courtney Koken. The other senior is DeLauryn Holden.
“I’m obviously upset it’s the end of the season, we’re devastated about that,” DeSantis said. “But I’m excited that I don’t have to stop here.”
DeSantis, who qualified in the high jump for the state track meet last spring, has a scholarship to play volleyball at Youngstown State. “YSU is going to be great, so I am excited.”
DeSantis plans to major in early childhood and special education.
“I love kids, I love helping people — I’m a people person,” she said.
Gorvet is going to miss his most successful player.
“It’s been a great four-year experience,” Gorvet said of coaching DeSantis. “To have a player of her caliber, a Division I [college] player [was special],” he said.
Sophomore CJ Sapp made 34 digs while DeSantis contributed 15 kills and 24 digs, Koken made 12 kills and 22 digs while Pelini made 26 assists.
DeSantis said she’ll take a few weeks off before her travel volleyball schedule and high jump training begins. She said the latter helps with her conditioning for Junior Olympic volleyball.
The Cardinals and Red Devils scrimmaged last summer. DeSantis wasn’t surprised to see how well the Red Devils have played.
“We definitely saw them as competitors, we knew they were good,” she said. “We were right there with them in the scrimmage.”
The biggest change for Mooney this season was moving up from Division III.
“We were in Division III the last five years,” Gorvet said. “Competitive balance put us up in Division II. Don’t get me wrong, there are some strong teams in Division III. But the final four teams that were here are solid.
“West Branch gave Marlington all they wanted,” Gorvet said. “I think [the final] will be a good match.”
After the Warriors (13-12) dropped the first set, they responded with a 25-21 victory. The Dukes then took charge, outscoring the Warriors 50-24 in the final two games.
Sophomore Elise Wallace scored 11 points with six aces and made eight kills, nine digs and 11 assists.
Senior Claire Smith made 11 assists and sophomore Sammie Tuel scored seven points. Junior Delaney Riot made 10 kills and sophomore Jessica Bock had five blocks. Junior Grace Heath made 12 digs.
For the Dukes, Nichol Ellesin made 18 kills and Kirsten Bogunovich 12. Brittne Weigans scored 18 points and Maggie Fellers scored 12 points with three aces.