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Mount Notre Dame volleyball team to play in national invitational in Arizona next month

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Posted at 2:47 PM, Sep 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-22 20:49:15-04

READING, Ohio — The Mount Notre Dame High School volleyball team will travel west in early October to participate in the GEICO Girls Volleyball Invitational, which will be televised on ESPNU and ESPN+ from Hamilton High School in Chandler, Arizona.

MND, which features several talented players including senior outside hitter Carly Hendrickson (University of Florida verbal commit), is scheduled to play MaxPreps national No. 1-ranked Marymount (Los Angeles) at 8 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time) Oct. 8 on ESPN+ in the first match in Arizona.

Marymount has won eight California state titles and features senior outside hitter Elia Rubin (Stanford verbal commit), senior right side hitter Kerry Keefe (Duke) and senior setter Kelly Belardi (Stanford).

"They're 15-0 right now in their season," MND coach Michael Crofton said of Marymount. "They've got a lot of high-level recruits on their team. They've got two kids going to Stanford, a kid going to Duke. It will be a very, very strong opponent for us to face, but it's a good experience for our kids to have that opportunity."

Louisville Assumption, ranked No. 11 nationally, plays Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.) at 10:30 p.m. Oct. 8 in the other semifinal. That match features multiple players with major college commitments.

The consolation match is scheduled for 8 p.m. (EST) Oct. 9 on ESPN+ while the championship match is set for 10:30 p.m. on ESPNU.

Paragon Marketing, which has collaborated with ESPN over the past 18 years for high school sports telecasts, reached out to MND this past May about the opportunity, according to Crofton.

MND, the reigning Ohio Division I state champion, was ranked No. 1 nationally by MaxPreps at the end of the 2020 season. MND won its 10th state volleyball title last season.

While MND had to adjust its season schedule, Crofton and athletic director Mark Schenkel thought it was a significant opportunity that couldn't be passed up.

The Cougars fly out to Arizona Oct. 7 and return home Oct. 10.

Crofton said the Cougars were speechless when MND announced the opportunity. He said the match against Marymount will be the closest example of a college match due to the amount of talent on the court.

"For us it's an incredible opportunity for the city," Crofton said. "We've gotten great feedback from other coaches that are excited to see it, excited that we got the opportunity to do it because these opportunities don't come very often. And for us to be able to kind of showcase our city and our program to the country is something we're extremely looking forward to."

MND (9-5) defeated Ursuline in five sets Tuesday night and the Cougars play host to Mercy McAuley Thursday night.

Crofton said the Cougars are trying to get healthy as the team prepares for the national invitational and the OHSAA postseason tournament.