By Jeremy Balan
Visiting Presentation High School may have been missing its two best players due to injuries in the West Catholic Athletic League semifinals on Wednesday, but at this point in the season, the context of any win doesn’t matter all that much to the Sacred Heart Cathedral girls volleyball team.
What does matter is results, and with a 25-12, 25-11, 28-26 win over Presentation, the Irish now have a chance to win their first WCAL girls volleyball title in school history.
Sacred Heart has only been to the league championship match once (in 2008) and will have to knock off undefeated and top-seeded Mitty on the road Thursday.
The Monarchs have only lost one game in WCAL play this season, have a 29-0 record, and are ranked by MaxPreps.com as the top team in California and No. 2 nationally. Mitty dispatched the Irish with ease in the final league match of the season, a 25-12, 25-16, 25-16 sweep.
“We have another chance,” said Sacred Heart head coach Margi Beima. “Mitty is very, very, very good. All you can ask for is an opportunity and tonight we were playing for the opportunity for a league title, which we really haven’t been in a position to do. That, in itself, is exciting, and yeah, the odds are stacked against us, but we still have the opportunity.”
The second-seeded Irish (28-7) cruised through the first two games against No. 3 seed Presentation (22-13), but got everything they could ask for from the Panthers in the third.
Sacred Heart had a steady lead through most of the third until the Panthers tied the game at 21-21. The Irish even faced game-point at 24-23, but a cross-court kill from reserve outside hitter Mikayla Patterson ended the threat. After two ensuing failed game points for Sacred Heart, senior outside hitter Sarah Jones finally ended the match with a point-scoring block.
“Ultimately, we were tough at the end, and that was good to see,” Beima said.
The first two games were far from competitive, with Sacred Heart sophomore middle blockers Madison Murtagh and Kaitlyn Jochum dominating the net, senior libero Amanda Lee digging what seemed to be every Presentation attack and a slew of nine aces.
Murtagh led the Sacred Heart offense with a match-high 10 kills and three blocks, while Jochum tallied six kills and four blocks, Lee had four aces and nine different Irish hitters scored kills.
“We talked about just taking care of business, because you can’t control the other side of the court,” Beima said. “We took care of what we could control and that’s really all you can ask for.”