The Xaverian Girls Volleyball teams took on arch-rivals, Fontbonne Hall Academy, in a doubleheader on Tuesday, September 12th.
The rivalry between Xaverian and Fontbonne has gone on since the Xaverian Girls Volleyball Program began. Xaverian JV Girls have had a steady stream of wins against Fontbonne, with high-scoring victories every time. However, on the Varsity side, the rivalry is a bit more heated.
In the 2021 season, Xaverian beat Fontbonne in both regular season games but lost to them in the Brooklyn Queens Championship. Xaverian then came in with a comeback in the 2022 season, beating Fontbonne in both regular season games as well as post-season games, going on to compete for the state championship.
The rivalry continues this year with the doubleheader between both the JV and Varsity teams.
While such a matchup is normally met with much anticipation and excitement, this year’s main headline was not the historic rivalry but rather the emotional ceremony being held for former Fontbonne player Caliegh Duggan, who sadly passed away this June. Head Coach for the Clippers, Marie McGoldrick, talked about the game for her players and the opposition, telling the community that these matches mean so much more than a win or loss.
“All of the girls on both sides have played with each other their whole lives,” McGoldrick said. “The rivalry is riddled with friendship…Caleigh Duggan knew that and modeled it better than most.”
Caliegh Duggan graduated from Fontbonne in 2022 with dreams of becoming a pediatric oncology nurse. She unfortunately passed away in June of 2023. In her honor, and because of her love for volleyball, Fontbonne held a memorial for her in between the JV and Varsity matches. The memorial included the entrance of the gym being decked out in orange and blue balloons, with her jersey framed and hung in the gym: #17 watching over all who play there. Her teammates wore matching orange jerseys with #17 and her last name, Duggan, spelled out on the back. In honor of her dream to go into pediatric oncology, all funds raised through donations and profits made from the orange shirts went to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation for childhood cancer research.
Despite the emotion of the memorial on both teams, the games went on to be highly competitive, skillful, and passionate. Xaverian JV secured yet another victory in just two sets against Fontbonne, with masterful performances from Kiki Daves, Emily Carbanaro, Madison Pender, and the team’s captain, Megan Brennan.
Varsity fared just as well, with notable players Julia Turchiano (captain), Cassie McDade (captain), Holly Murray, Sophia Manfredi, Jesse Courtesy, Sophia Fusco, and Hailey O’Keeffe.
The key to both victories, according to Varsity player Sophia Fusco, was the all-around clean play and lack of mistakes. Specifically, there were not any fault serves, and there was stellar communication. While the games were not as close or intense as they have been in the past, Fusco does not discredit the rivalry in the slightest.
“While the competition might have been more difficult in the past, they will always be our rival school,” Fusco stated.
The team's coach, Marie McGoldrick, stated in a post-game talk that she was incredibly proud of how her team played, worked together, and fought and how “we took care of business quickly.”
Looking to the future, our girls will be playing St. Francis Prep, yet another rival in the Brooklyn-Queens division. For the program’s full schedule, check out www.xaverian.org/athletics