The Salpointe Catholic girls’ volleyball team lost to Notre Dame Prep during the regular season, getting swept 3-0 to close out October. But NDP coach Holly McLean admitted that she didn’t think the Lancers played their best game.
Looks like she was right. Yesterday, the Lancers did play their best game. And Notre Dame paid the price.
The two teams met again, this time at Mesquite High School in Gilbert to decide this year’s 4A state champion. When it was over, the Salpointe players traveled back to their home in Tucson, trophy in hand.
It took five sets to determine this year’s 4A champion, as could be expected since the match was between the top two seeds in the tourney, with Scottsdale’s Notre Dame the No. 1 seed.
A Notre Dame victory wasn’t difficult to imagine. The Saints haven’t lost a match all season as they compiled a perfect 17-0 regular-season record. In fact, they lost just six sets all season long.
And they were on a roll. Their last set loss was back on Nov. 2 against Flagstaff High.
Add to that the killer line-up the Saints put on the floor. Six of the Notre Dame players ranked among the conference’s top 10 for hitting percentage, kills, assists, blocks, and digs.
But that didn’t intimidate the Lancers, who won back-to-back state championships in 2016 and 2017, so this title is the third in the last five years.
The two teams were familiar foes before this encounter, until Notre Dame was moved up to 5A in 2016. The Saints knocked Salpointe out of the 2014 and 2015 state tourneys on the way to winning state championships both years. Now they’re back to fighting for the same conference title.
Salpointe finished the regular season 17-2 and easily rolled through the first two rounds of the playoffs, defeating No. 6 Flagstaff, 3-0, in the semifinal match. NDP rolled over Seton Catholic, 3-0, to set up the finals meeting.
It was a see-saw battle in the finals, with Salpointe taking charge in the first set, leading all the way to the 25-22 win. Notre Dame roared back in the second set by taking a commanding 12-1 lead and going on to a 25-15 victory, and then won the third set that went all the way to a hotly-contested 26-24 win. Salpointe came back to force the fifth set with a 25-21 win.
The Lancers weren’t giving an inch in the decisive fifth set, gaining a 9-8 edge that they were able to hold for the 15-11 win.
A trio of seniors led Salpointe to this years’ title. Outside hitter Andrea Owens had a team-high 25 kills, setter Brandy Kishbaugh contributed 44 assists, and libero Bianca DeVitis had 27 digs.
Evan Hendrix led the Saints’ attack with 19 kills and teammate Denae Pitts added 41 assists to the stats.