Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)
, ranked No. 1 in the MaxPreps Top 25 volleyball rankings, capped a 43-2 season with a four-set victory over No. 11 Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.)
on Saturday in the CIF Open Division finals at Santiago Canyon College.
Mitty (33-5) put up a fight, but the nation's top team came away with the 25-18, 23-25, 25-15, 25-21 victory in front of a largely partisan crowd of red-clad fans as Mater Dei is less than 20 minutes from the CIF finals site.
Three Mater Dei hitters tallied double-digit kills as Cymarah Gordon
led the team with 17 while sophomore Layli Ostovar
pounded 14 and Isabel Clark
added 13 as setter Julia Kakkis
had 39 assists.
"We knew we had to take advantage of every crack to dig and convert, and I don't think we did it as well as we've done, but they make it hard for you," Mitty coach Jon Wallace said.
Mater Dei took a 15-13 first-set lead on a Gordon kill and slowly extended the edge to 21-17 as Clark got in on the act. A net violation put Mater Dei up 23-18 before Addison Coady
set Gordon for a kill and Clark ended the set with a block.
"Love the energy we came out with tonight," Mater Dei coach Dan O'Dell said. "I thought we did a good job of kind of being ready to go from the first point."
But Archbishop Mitty came out hot in the second set, reeling off leads of 5-1, 9-4 and 12-5, at which point O'Dell called timeout.
"I don't know if we were tight," O'Dell said. "Mitty sided out six straight times …They did a good job finding those seams. (I think it's) more a credit to Mitty in set two that they couldn't be stopped early."
But O'Dell's squad never stopped battling and chipped away and pulled even at 22-all.
"That's a bad feeling," Wallace said of watching the lead evaporate. "I felt like even in set one. We made some uncharacteristic errors, they were good swings but they were just out, so I felt good about where we were.
"But when that tide turns it doesn't feel very good. We were doing everything we could to stop the bleeding."
Mitty, up 24-23, got a Isabella Romero
kill for the set and a 1-all tie to the match.
But Mater Dei kept applying the pressure with their trio of hitters, a formidable block at the net and a back row that cleaned up most of what Mitty threw at them.
Mater Dei held a 17-14 edge in the third set before Ostovar reeled off seven straight service points to put the set out of reach as her team came away with the 25-15 win and moved one set from the title.
"I think they had momentum the entire match except that half of set two and we had to battle uphill," Wallace said. "They do that by being pretty good and can sustain what they do. We were always kind of chasing it and never got ahead of it."
Even down 2-1, Mitty never stopped battling. The NorCal representative trailed by eight and managed to cut the lead to 20-19 before Mater Dei found enough kills and a double hit on match point to close it out.
"Mitty didn't back down, you know, we had that lead in set four and they grinded until the end. We're a tough team to go against," O'Dell said.