By Jeremy Balan
SAN JOSE – On a good day, the Sacred Heart Cathedral girls volleyball team can go toe-to-toe with Valley Christian.
On a bad day, like Saturday, the Irish look outmatched against the Warriors.
Top-seeded Valley Christian emphatically enforced its claim as the best Central Coast Section Division III team with a 25-22, 25-16, 25-17 win over the Irish in the section championship at Independence High School.
The win is Valley Christian’s third victory over the Irish (28-8) this season.
“We just didn’t have it all together today, but sometimes you have to just tip your hat to the other team,” said Sacred Heart head coach Margi Beima. “Good teams have a way of getting you out of your game and they took us out of our game. They beat us.”
Valley Christian (32-7) had five hitters record five kills or more, led by a match-high 10 from freshman middle blocker Ronika Stone, but the offense paled in comparison to the Warriors defense.
The Warriors tipped countless Irish attacks at the net and rarely allowed Sacred Heart to score a first-possession kill with a dominant back-row performance.
Sacred Heart’s defense also played well (other than some issues with serve-receive that led to eight Valley Christian aces) and standout senior libero Amanda Lee tallied 30 digs, but Irish hitters struggled to put points away, specifically on several extended rallies.
Sacred Heart senior outside hitter Courtney Wong recorded four of her team-high eight kills in the final game, but the Irish couldn’t recover from an early 7-0 Valley Christian run that gave the Warriors a 11-4 lead.
“In that third game, they were just giving it everything they had,” Beima said. “The ball just kept coming back over.”
The silver lining for the Irish is that they may get another shot at the Warriors down the road in the CIF State tournament that begins next week, but that didn’t take away the disappointment, especially for the Sacred Heart seniors that won the CCS title last season.
“The fact that we have a Monday is a good thing,” Beima said. “I told them that they can mourn today, but they gotta get their stuff together tomorrow and be ready Monday – and they will be.”