By Jeremy Balan
SAN JOSE – The Sacred Heart Cathedral girls volleyball program has won four Northern California regional championships, but one title continues to evade it.
With a 25-11, 25-20, 25-14 loss on the road to Mitty in the West Catholic Athletic League championship game Thursday, the Irish have still yet to claim a league title.
“We’re always going to work toward [a WCAL title], but all we can do is control our side of the net and we can’t control how great the other team might be,” said Sacred Heart head coach Margi Beima.
The greatness of the team on the other side of the net was not in question.
The Monarchs (31-0) looked every bit like a nationally-ranked powerhouse (they were recently ranked as the No. 2 team in the country by MaxPreps.com) and did so without USC-bound outside hitter Allie Wheeler, who did not play due to a case of the flu, as well as starting setter Kelsey Crawford.
“We had three backups on the floor, but they have to compete against the [first] team all year in practice,” said Mitty head coach Bret Almazan-Cezar. “It comes down to just a great team.”
The Irish (28-8) hung around in each game, but were put away by extended Mitty rallies every time.
In the first, Sacred Heart only trailed 11-9, when Mitty went on a 14-2 run to end the game. In the second, the Irish held two separate leads early, and were tied at 11-11 when the Monarchs went on a 7-0 run. In the third, Sacred Heart trailed 6-4, then Mitty put the game out of reach with a 10-3 run.
Six-foot-3 Mitty outside hitter Clare Powers and fellow junior Shirin Tooloee tallied 10 kills apiece and the net was owned by 6-foot-4 sophomore middle blocker Alexa Dryer, who had a match-high four point-scoring blocks.
“There’s only so many things you can do,” Beima said. “We needed to be a little bit better offensively, but unfortunately, there were a lot of times where they just hit the ball over the block, and there’s not a whole lot you can do about that.”
Sacred Heart senior outside hitters Courtney Wong and Sarah Jones were the only consistent offensive threats for the Irish, finishing with seven and six kills, respectively, but the defense had another standout effort.
Senior libero Amanda Lee recorded 24 digs and the Irish extended several long rallies, but they always seemed to end with a Mitty point.
“I was proud of the fight we had,” Beima said. “We didn’t roll over and die. They beat us.”