By Bonta Hill
After rallying back from a 22-16 deficit in the second game to win 26-24, Sacred Heart Cathedral looked as if it would carry that momentum for an easy three-game win.
But Mission High School of San Jose pushed the Irish to the limit before Sacred Heart prevailed at home 25-16, 26-24, 24-26, 19-25, 15-12 in non-league action.
“We were playing really well in the first two games, but Mission fought back and really started to dig in and to their credit they played great.” said Sacred Heart head coach Nga Tran. “We fought fatigue there in the end, but I’m happy with the way the guys responded.”
Sacred Heart (12-8) was led by captain Matthew Tinio’s 19 kills and three aces, and Norman Lai chipped in with 12 digs for the Irish.
“I don’t know why, but our last couple of matches, we’ve been going five games,” Tinio said with a smirk. “After the first two games, we got a little tight, but we came together as a team and got it together.”
Mission (7-3), which easily could have folded after unforced errors put it in a two-game hole, stayed tight with Sacred Heart the rest of the way.
The Warriors took advantage of Sacred Heart’s sloppy play in the third and fourth games as Zaid Sarwary kept Mission in it, leading the way with 17 kills and 17 digs. Michael Wang was solid as well with 14 kills.
“I thought the first two games we didn’t put in any effort and I thought we were watching them a little too much and was worried about what they were doing,” Mission head coach Daniel Yang said. “Sacred Heart is a very good team, but I told the team afterward it’s not about the end result, as long as we’re playing hard on our side, I’ll be happy.”
The beginning of the tiebreaking fifth game was all Irish, but after coming off the short turnaround from Saturday’s all-day tournament at Leigh High School in San Jose, Sacred Heart had to fight off another Warriors rally before pulling out the match.
After jumping out to a 10-4 lead, Mission closed the game to 14-12, but with the Irish clinging to match point, their serve went out of play and Sacred Heart earned the
“It’s really a cohesive team and it’s a very young team,” Tran said. “The team has been working hard and having a lot of fun. These guys have been great.”