Bishop Chatard volleyball coach Nick Wolf sat alone at the end of the bench, soaking in what had just transpired on the court in front of him.
Just a few steps away, his players wildly celebrated another regional championship.
It was a scene that would have seemed improbable at best just over an hour earlier.
But host Chatard, down two sets, clawed its way back to capture a thrilling 3-2 win against Cardinal Ritter on Tuesday night in a Class 3A regional. The Trojans advanced to their third straight semistate with the 19-25, 23-25, 25-20, 25-17, 15-13 victory.
No. 14 Chatard is one of just eight teams remaining in the state and will play second-ranked Providence at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in a semistate semifinal. The winner will play for the semistate title at 7 p.m.
“It’s phenomenal,” Wolf said. “When the girls are out there playing well and they’re happy, they’re a tough team to beat. We’ve been stressing attitude and heart all year.”
After falling behind the seventh-ranked Raiders 2-0 after a close loss in the second set, Chatard looked like a different team in the third and fourth sets. The Trojans jumped out to a 12-6 lead in third, and Ritter (28-9) wasn’t able to come within four points the rest of the way.
Chatard (18-16) dominated the fourth, taking a 20-10 lead and never looking back to set up the deciding fifth set. By then, momentum was clearly on the Trojans’ side.
“For us seniors, it was our last home game,” said senior middle hitter Anna Fehribach, who finished with 24 kills. “We weren’t performing well in the first two sets. We came together, and the undergraduates came together and played for the seniors.”
“It’s so amazing,” she added. “Especially to be able to do this at home.”
Fehribach played a huge role in the fifth set. She recorded three kills and a block to give the Trojans an early 6-2 lead. But the Raiders tied it at 7-7 on a kill from junior outside hitter Angelique Allen, and eventually led 11-8.
Chatard, though, scored the next five points and led 13-11 when Allen hit the ball into the net. Clinging to a 14-13 lead, Fehribach delivered the final blow — a kill — to put the game away.
“She’s a senior hitter who has a lot of energy and a heavy arm,” Wolf said of Ferhribach. “Our middle hitter (senior) Jenna Kimack also played lights out.”
Ritter coach Chris Due credited Chatard — who his team beat 3-0 in the first match of the season — for the comeback.
“In the third set, we just didn’t execute like we did early on in the first two sets,” he said. “Chatard got a little momentum. It’s tough, especially on the road, to get in a deficit and get our way back.
“They were the better team tonight. It was a hard fought match.”
Kimack added 14 kills for the Trojans, while sophomore setter Elena Redmond added 53 assists.