At 5-foot-7 St. Francis setter McKenna Kelsay is usually giving up a few inches when she goes up for a block.
No wonder Kelsay showed just a little extra emotion when she stuffed a ball back at Rosary during a Suburban Christian Conference match Wednesday night in Aurora.
Kelsay's block came when the Royals had one of their few leads, 7-5 early in Game 2. Moments later the Spartans were up 9-8 on their way to a 25-13, 25-22 victory.
Kelsay, who finished with 2 blocks plus 24 assists and 6 digs, said she was so excited to see her block go down not only for her own satisfaction but because it's an area of the game the Spartans (26-5, 9-0) are working hard to improve.
"That was fun," Kelsay said. "It was kind of just adrenaline, go up, I didn't expect to block it but hey. I try to get up as high as possible to get touches. I usually don't get complete blocks but it's nice when it goes down."
In both games Rosary (17-9, 4-3) was tied at 8-8 before the Spartans scored the ninth point and never trailed again.
"We have had trouble blocking lately and I think that completely picked up tonight," Kelsay said. "We've been practicing it, doing different drills and I think we blocked great tonight. We were closing. I think that's one of the main weaknesses we've been having so that's great we picked it up."
The strong play at the net made Kelsay's job easier as she found Maddie Haggerty for 12 kills and Mary Boken for 5 more. The Spartans closed Game 1 on a 17-5 run after seven early ties.
"I thought our offense was really smooth," Kelsay said. "Since our blocking picked up, our defense picked up and gave me better balls to set and our hitters were putting it down."
Rosary picked up its game late in Game 2. Trailing 20-13, the Royals got as close as 24-22. The No. 17s on both rosters -- Rosary's Kate Stefanski and the Spartans' Boken -- traded kills on three straight points that ended with the Spartans up 23-20.
Brianna Flagg's block trimmed the Spartans' lead to 24-22 before Flagg mis-hit a ball on the next point to end the match.
"We missed a few serves in a row which is not what you want to do," St. Francis coach Peg Kopec said of the Spartans' four service errors in the second game. "But overall I'm pleased."
Sam Dubiel added 5 digs for the Spartans who went to three sets to beat Rosary in the first meeting.
"I think they picked it up a notch and we didn't respond very well," Rosary coach Rachel Hartmann said. "I think some of the things we've been doing well lately we didn't do until the last points of the game like our blocking came alive and we needed that the first game. I think once they realized we weren't blocking well they took advantage of us and defensively we weren't really there."
Flagg led Rosary with 9 kills, 2 digs and a block. Erin Bowe (5 kills, 4 digs), Joanna Gallagher (9 assists), Tori Tassos (8 assists) and Katie Baki (11 digs) also contributed.
"Brianna always gets her points but tonight I finally felt her presence," Hartmann said. "That is the thing I'm most excited about. You could tell the way she was playing she wanted to get those points for us and really wanted to win and I hope that's not the last I see of it. I was really pleased with her."