St. Ignatius senior setter Kate Danaher is always looking for a favorable matchup for her hitters.
And with the two-headed junior monster of McKenzie Washington and Katherine Randall, Danaher has some dangerous options.
When one is hitting well, watch out.
When both are swinging away?
“No one can stop them,” Danaher said with a smile. “When they’re on, we’re rolling. It’s so fun when I can trust both of them to put the ball down. It’s so awesome when they get a big shot.”
With Washington piling up 10 kills and Randall 8 kills, host St. Ignatius claimed a quick 25-21, 25-20 victory on Nov. 4 over Latin in a Class 3A sectional semifinal.
The Wolfpack (20-15) advance to play top-seed Nazareth Academy on Nov. 6 at 6 p.m. in the sectional championship.
As a sophomore, Washington finished second on the team with 233 kills. She’s taken that next step forward as a junior, owning the role as the go-to hitter.
“This year, it’s a little bit more confidence,” Washington said. “We’ve made a lot of progress since last year. The tough teams we lost to last year, we’re winning this year or went to 3 sets. For me, I just want to be there for my team.”
An athletic 5’10” junior outside hitter, Washington has added more of an all-around aspect to her game. She’s always been able to hit, but now she’s contributing in all facets.
“McKenzie had a big game tonight, and we needed it,” St. Ignatius Coach Erik Eastman said. “She’s gotten better with serve-receive. She’s pushed herself which has taken her to that next step up.”
Washington had 5 kills in each set as the Wolfpack countered with seemingly every Latin point. Randall wasn’t far behind, adding 6 kills in the first set and 2 in the second.
Playing in front of an enthusiastic crowd, Randall did not disappoint.
“We’re playing pretty well,” Randall said. “It really helped me playing in front of a big crowd where all our friends come out. The entire stands were packed. It makes a huge difference. You get so much more excited with each play.”
Closing out the semifinal, Washington slammed back-to-back kills and Danaher added a block as the Wolfpack went up 24-20.
A Latin kill appeared to go out of bounds, setting off the celebration, only for the officials to signal the kill was in bounds.
No fear for St. Ignatius as Latin served long out of bounds on the next play as the Wolfpack advanced to play Nazareth.
Danaher finished with 25 assists and 3 kills, including 2 timely kills in the second.
These weren’t slick dump kills either. These were big swing, bounce the ball off the floor kills for the Brown University recruit.
“When I hit, because it’s so rare, I swing like there’s no block,” Danaher said. “I hit it pretty hard. I hit like it’s going to go to the floor even if it doesn’t. I still like setting better.”
Senior Lauren Brunsvold (3 kills), sophomore Kiya Levy (2 kills) and junior Maggie Hynes (11 digs) all chipped in for Ignatius who avenged a three-set loss in September to Latin.
Looking ahead to the Nazareth matchup, Danaher knows what the team needs to clean up.
“We need to be more consistent on ball control, defense and serve-receive,” Danaher said. “They have some great serves, so if we go for everything on defense, get the ball up and have more control, we can give them a run for their money for sure.”