It was more than your normal championship for the St. Paul's girls volleyball team last night at Goucher College as the Gators won the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference crown by 3-1 over Mount de Sales.
Winning by scores of 28-26, 25-17 and 25-22, the No. 15 Gators (16-2) won their third title in four years in unique fashion. St. Paul's seniors won the C Conference as freshmen, the B Conference as sophomores, were A Conference runners-up last year and now are A Conference champions.
The No. 11 Sailors finished the season at 21-2.
"We went from C to B to A in four years, and it's been the best four years of my life," said Gators senior leader Blake Hargest, who had eight kills, 31 assists and was 12-for-12 serving.
"I wasn't going to play volleyball when I came to St. Paul's and I've seen this team grow in size and skill. With the new players we've added, it's all come together under coach [Kelli Wilkinson]. Bailey [Webster] is incredible with her height and power."
Webster dominated at the net with a match-high 17 kills. Webster had seven of her kills in the first game. Her seventh kill gave St. Paul's a 27-26 lead and Hargest closed it out by serving an ace to overcome strong hitting by the Sailors' Kelly Nevin and Kristina Mercier.
In Game 2, sophomore Jillian Unitas, the granddaughter of Colts great Johnny Unitas, had two of her six total kills to close out the game, 25-17.
Webster's 17th kill ended the match as St. Paul's won, 25-22. "We are very athletic and I can play a lot of girls," Wilkinson said. "When we get our offense going, we are tough to stop. I'm so proud of this team and our seniors."
B Conference -- After dropping the first game to Bryn Mawr (14-8), Notre Dame Prep (17-2) reeled off three straight to repeat as B Conference champion, 3-1. Seniors Grace Carmen and Brittany Phillips dominated at the net for the champions, who also defeated Bryn Mawr twice in regular season. "We had a great core of seniors, who were the heart and soul of our team the last two years," said fourth-year coach Kim Bryson. "Our net play and hit-covering was tremendous tonight. I told the kids before the season that we had a target on our backs after winning last year, and they responded." The other seniors besides Carmen and Phillips are Kelly Seifert, Chastity Dunnaville and McKenna Sigai.
C Conference -- Oldfields (10-3) won its first volleyball title by defeating Mount Carmel, 25-19, 20-25, 25-19, 25-12, as senior setter Marisa Martyak, Tara Kaleh and Alex Devereaux led the way for coach Jessica Hinebaugh.firstname.lastname@example.org