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Sister Act

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Volleyball team was already a family affair, with Melissa Rosso coaching and her younger sister, Alessandra, as the team’s star outside hitter. On Sunday, the Crusaders added another Rosso: Jennifer.

Assistant coach Alana Marcello had to attend her cousin’s confirmation and couldn’t make the CHSAA New York Archdiocesan final and Jennifer, the team’s former coach and Melissa’s older sister, took a seat on the bench.

It wasn’t long before the elder two Rosso sisters were jumping off said bench, though.

St. Catharine pulled off a snare-drum tight, 26-24, 29-27, 26-24 win against rival and host Preston to win a second straight championship in The Bronx.

“No one can replace Alana,” Melissa said. “But it was a special moment between sisters. We all celebrated together on the court. It was pretty cool.”

Jennifer, who coached SCA (15-0) for four years, guided Melissa a senior and the Crusaders to the CHSAA Class A state semifinals in 2005. Alessandra was like the team manager that year, always following around her sisters. She got a similar feeling Sunday.

“It was like a throwback to 2005,” Alessandra said. … “I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”

That 2005 team had an incredible run, but it wasn’t undefeated and it didn’t win two straight Archdiocesan crowns like this group. Melissa admitted that the current squad has surpassed the one she and Marcello played on four years ago.

“Oh without a doubt,” Melissa said. “Definitely. We were all friends when I played. But they have a closer bond.”

Alessandra had 10 kills, Lauren Paylor had 18 assists and Amarilda Shkoza had eight kills against Preston (12-3). Grace Kingsley and Charlayne Hurlington had three blocks. Kerri Johnson had 17 kills and 30 digs and Laura Montalto had 29 digs and five kills for the Panthers.

Alessandra wasn’t happy with how she played, but she was extremely proud of how some of the role players picked up the slack. She pointed toward Chelsea Andino and Designa Correa, two of the team’s more unheralded players, as having a major impact. Hurlington and Kingsley, the team’s two big middle hitters, had one of their best matches of the season, Alessandra said.

The only negative thing for St. Catharine was the absence of Marcello, who will be back next week when the Crusaders play in the CHSAA Class A state tournament starting Saturday, though.

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