Don Ketchum
Former Staff Writer,

Transition to new coach helps Notre Dame volleyball roll

September 25, 2012 by Don Ketchum, AZPreps365

By Don Ketchum

When Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep brought in a new girls volleyball coach, it wasn’t as if they just pulled someone in off the street.

James Felton had an impressive resume.

He had taken Chandler Seton Catholic to four straight state championships after finishing as runner-up in his first year. He also had been successful on the club circuit.

But that earlier success didn’t necessarily mean that there would be a smooth transition at Notre Dame. How would the girls react?

“The transition has been great,’’ he said. “I’m a tough coach. I ask a lot of the players. They have really stepped up and they have been open-minded about what I’m trying to teach them.’’

The Saints stepped up on Tuesday night (Sept. 25), solidifying their grip on the No. 1 seed in Division II by defeating No. 4 host Cave Creek Cactus Shadows in three games. Notre Dame is now 9-0.

It wasn’t easy, however. Cactus Shadows (14-4) scrapped its way through the first two games, pushing Notre Dame to the limit. The first game was 25-21 and the second was 25-22 before Notre Dame pulled away in the third game for a 25-12 triumph.

Felton said it wasn’t so much that his team struggled in the first two games.

“They’re (Cactus Shadows) just really good,’’ he said. “The first couple of games were kind of what we expected. The third game, we got on a bit of a roll and strung together some points early.’’

Notre Dame jumped to a 5-1 lead and later went on a 6-0 run for a 16-7 advantage.

Senior Sheridan Burns confounded Cactus Shadows with her powerful left-handed kills. Senior Genevieve Pirotte also was effective at the net.

Carly Lenzen had several key blocks for Cactus Shadows early in the match, and fellow senior Jennifer Long played well. Sophomore setter Kelly Hajek helped the offense flow with a nice touch on her passes.