Girls Volleyball: Sacred Heart Cathedral sweeps St. Ignatius in CCS title game

The Sacred Heart Cathedral girls volleyball team celebrates after the final point of its CCS Division III championship win over St. Ignatius on Saturday at Independence High School in San Jose. (Photo by Doug Ko)

By Jeremy Balan

SAN JOSE — It didn’t take long for Sacred Heart Cathedral to reestablish itself as the best girls volleyball program in the City.

The Irish completed a season sweep of rival St. Ignatius and clinched their fourth Central Coast Section Division III championship in five years with a 25-20, 27-25, 25-14 win on Saturday at Independence High School.

A year ago, it was St. Ignatius sweeping Sacred Heart for its first CCS title in school history, ending a three-year championship streak for the Irish.

Sacred Heart Cathedral senior outside hitter Stephanie Lee reaches to make an attack against St. Ignatius in the CCS Division III championship game on Saturday at Independence High School in San Jose. (Photo by Doug Ko)

“It was clear SI was the best team in Division III last year, but we had four wins over [them] this year and two or three would have been big,” said Sacred Heart head coach Margi Beima. “I’m just really proud of our girls, because when you watch us play, it’s so clearly a team effort.”

The Irish (30-7) attack was well-rounded and balanced, with six players recording five kills or more, led by a team-high nine kills from junior outside hitter Courtney Wong. Junior outside hitter Sarah Jones added eight kills and senior middle blocker Daniella Crismani tallied seven.

Wong might have finished with a double-digit kill total, but left the court in the third game after colliding with libero Amanda Lee.

Without their best hitter, the Irish went on a 13-4 run to end the game and Wong’s replacement, sophomore Sarah Plett recorded an ace and a kill in the surge.

“How huge was Plett?” Beima said. “That’s what we keep talking about. This group is all about team. We were worried about [Wong] because she’s got a pretty good lump on her cheek, but Plett came in and we knew she would help us a lot.”

The Irish played solid in the third game, but the late run was extended by frequent St. Ignatius mistakes. Eight of the final 10 Sacred Heart points came on St. Ignatius (26-12) unforced errors.

“This game requires a lot of emotional intensity and at the end, a couple of things didn’t go our way and we made some errors,” said St. Ignatius head coach Michelle Rybka.

The third game sealed the victory, but the most crucial moment may have come in the second. With St. Ignatius just a point away from a win, leading 24-22, the Irish eliminated the deficit and ultimately prevailed on the strength of an athletic an unrelenting defensive effort.

Four Sacred Heart players tallied 10 digs or more, led by 12 from Lee.

“When the game was on the line, our defense kept the ball in play for us to finish,” Beima said. “I can’t say enough about how tough our defense has been for us. They were gritty and they could have rolled in that game.”

St. Ignatius senior outside hitter Claire Healy puts a ball past a pair of Sacred Heart Cathedral blockers in the CCS Division III championship game on Saturday at Independence High School in San Jose. (Photo by Doug Ko)

St. Ignatius senior outside hitter Claire Healy finished a sparkling CCS run with another standout effort, scoring a match-high 12 kills, but the Wildcats could not overcome the momentum of late collapses in the first two games. St. Ignatius was also in a position to win the first game and was tied at 19-19, but the Irish ended the game on a 6-1 run.

“We were right there and it was hard to lose those first two games,” Rybka said. “It was so tangible and so close. It was a huge momentum shift, unfortunately not in our favor.”

Both teams with advance to the Division III state championship tournament, along with Academic Athletic Association champion Balboa, and after the loss, the Wildcats had instant motivation.

“Luckily for us, this isn’t the end of our season,” Rybka said. “[Potentially playing Sacred Heart again] is absolutely the fuel to our fire.”

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  1. Ari Gold says:

    Congrats to the Irish on ANOTHER CCS title and an even sweeter victory by waxing SI one more time. Minus last year, SH is SI’s landlord. SI pays us rent because we own them!!! It will be the same story next year as Wong and Jones are back for their senior year.

    • Cats Pride says:

      wow sh beats si in one sport. congratulations.

      • GCJ01 says:

        Actually, SH beat SI and football this year to. So that’s two sports…and counting.

        • GCJ01 says:

          Meant to say “SH beat SI in football this year to. So that’s two sports…and counting.”

          • Perry says:

            Your SH education is showing – 50% in the correct use of to/two/too.

            As far as ownage, you might want to check how rarely the words “Sacred Heart” appears in the list of Bruce-Mahoney winners. We all know that is all that matters.

            • Anonymous says:

              First of all….we are Sacred Heart CATHEDRAL…CHECK YOUR OWN EDUCATION! If all that matters in your life is who becomes the caretaker of the trophy you have a long way to go in life.

            • GCJ01 says:

              Perry: I love when people make comments and do not know what they’re talking about. I didn’t even attend SH. As for your Bruce-Mahoney comment, I was speaking in terms of head-to-head games this year (from the one’s that I knew of).

          • SI Alum says:

            I hope that you did not go to Sacred Heart, because I am sure the graduates of SH do not appreciate you giving them a bad rep. Stick to reading the articles, not commenting on them.

          • GCJ 01 says:

            SI Alum:

            All that money you paid to go to SI and they didn’t teach you how to read? Obviously you read my comments, so you should know that I didn’t go to SHC. Why don’t you learn to read, and understand what you read BEFORE you leave your comments! Thank you and have a nice day!

        • ARHS Stats says:

          Saint Ignatius vs. Sacred Heart Cathedral this season

          Football: SHC won the game (1-0)
          Volleyball: SHC won the matches (3-0)
          Golf: SI won both matches (2-0)
          Tennis: SI won both matches (2-0)
          Cross Country Boys: SI finished with a lower score than SHC in all three league meets plus won the CCS Division III Meet, with SHC in second place. (4-0)
          Cross Country Girls: SI finished with a lower score than SHC in all three league meets. (3-0) Girls were in different divisions in the CCS Meet

          So SHC has beaten SI in 4 Meets/Matches/Games, and SI has beaten SHC in 11 Meets/Matches/Games so far this school year

          It is 4 sports for SI and 2 sports for SHC

          • jbalan says:

            SH volleyball also won a tournament game against SI, so technically that one is 4-0.

            • ARHS Stats says:

              I looked for the results on the SI Web Site.

              I found SHC beating SI in Volleyball in the league match, league playoffs, and the CCS Playoffs.

              For the Milpitas Spikefest, it does not show a match against SHC, but does show a match against Sacred Heart Prep. The Coach probably reported a loss vs. SHC, but left out the Cathedral part of the school name.

              FROM THE SI WEB SITE
              Event Recap:
              W – Mt Madona 25-13, 25-21

              L – Bishop O’Dowd 27-25, 16-25, 10-15

              W – San Benito 25-9, 25-18

              L – Sacred Heart Prep 20-25, 18-25

              L – Menlo 25-20, 26-28, 10-15

          • Ari Gold says:

            Pat, your stats are right on, but did the golf, cross country, and tennis trees that fell in the forrest make any sounds? Outside of the players, parents, and coaches on those teams, I would say a handful of people really care about them much less brag their school’s victory over the other.

            The other main point about those lesser sports are those are really individual sports. They are teams in name, but the accomplishments are done by individuals. I’ll give you a really good SH example. God bless Shannon Rowbury. Our star olympian. Do you think SH’s cross country and track teams really did that well those years she attended SH? Or figuratively saying, Rowbury WAS THE TEAM.

            The general masses will recognize the main team sports as ones to brag over the other school. But its good you have passion for all things Riordan regardless of the sport. Good man Pat.

            • ARHS Stats says:

              Any time SI and SHC play in any sport their are more fans there and the players try harder.

              Golf, Tennis, and Cross Country do not draw the crowds the Football, Basketball, and Baseball games draw, but the athletes try just as hard. I don’t think the Volleyball Matches fill the gym either, but I could be wrong.

              I think Saint Ignatius is proud of their Girl’s Golf team,and Cross Country teams, which gave SI at least two C.C.S. Championships this season.

              SI has won the Girls Golf Championship the last two or three years and have won the WCAL Golf Championship or were the League Co-Champions the last six years.

              • IC Stars says:

                Actually volleyball does fill the gym pretty well, especially during post-season play.

                Also, who wouldn’t rather win at football, basketball, baseball and even soccer than golf, cross-country or track? Yes, I know they all bust their butz out there but I’ll take football hardware any time… plus whatever wins the Bruce-Mahoney Trophy.

  2. FrankT says:

    @Ari Gold C’mon Ari, SH doesn’t own SI. We all know that SH alumni always end up working for SI alumni.

  3. ... says:


    • GCJ01 says:

      It’s the tradition and history of the Bruce-Mahoney that makes it important.

      • WCAL Alum says:

        In all honesty, CCS title are dime a dozen for WCAL schools. Most seasoned alums appreciate WCAL titles first (much harder to attain than CCS titles) and if your an SH/SI alum, the Bruce-Mahoney Trophy tops all for fodder.

        Being that said in women WCAL, a WCAL and CCS, even NorCal and State is a big accomplishmentt. To say that all people care about (ie respect) is football, basketball and baseball, is somebody who has never attended a high level volleyball match played by all San Francisco high schools (particularly the caliber of a SH/SI or AAA championship match. Scary but impressive stuff.

  4. SHC Alum says:

    Ya’ll some haters. Everyone knows the only sports that matter are football, which SHC won and basketball which SHC will win with big men Taybang Johns And Joshua “get off me” Fox. Believe dat

    • Ari Gold says:

      No slang please. Proper grammar and spelling. You went to SH remember? Not a AAA school.

      • GCJ 01 says:

        HA!!!! Now we have proof that SHC isn’t as good, academically, as they thought they were! Obviously, SHC Alum did remember that s/he went to SHC, that’s why that individual spoke in such a manner! I expect this from an SI alum, NOT an SHC alum.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Im not worried about this year, SHC is the team…I wondering what happens after this year, who will replace the two twin towers?

    • Ari Gold says:

      SH is the team as far as SF goes. They will finish in the top half of league, but as long as Aaron Gordon is at Mitty, SH is not winning the WCAL. Unless Taylor Johns grew up to 7’0″ or Josh Fox became Michael Jordan, then thats they only way I see SH winning. Otherwise its Aaron Gordon’s world and we’re just living it in.

      • WCAL Alum says:

        I have to agree. The Gordon kid is special and historically has the supporting cast to take WCAL. SHC is good, but it wont be easy to win a WCAL title (is it ever) or go far in NorCal (should make top two in CCS). Remember Bishop O’Dowd has everybody coming back too.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Don’t forget Serra who killed SHC in the WCAL championship game.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, it was a playoff game, but Serra really destroyed SHC in that game. So the road for WCAL will be tough as usual.

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