Arizona Class 1A volleyball: Top-ranked Lady Cardinals fall in semis
The top-ranked St. Michael volleyball team were in unfamiliar territory on Saturday morning.
During the regular season, the Lady Cardinals won all of their league matches in straight sets. Against No. 5 seed St. David in the semifinals of the Arizona Class 1A state volleyball tournament St. Michael trailed 2-0, something they have never been accustomed to.
The Cardinals could not battle their way out of this one as they fell 27-25, 25-20, 20-25, 25-19 to the eventual state champions at Phoenix North High School.
“I think it could have gone either way,” St. Michael coach Andrea Ashkie said. “St. David is a real good team. Even though they started a few points ahead of us, we always ended neck-and-neck to the end. Our girls fought real hard and it could have gone either way.”
The Cardinals looked good in stretches but St. David libero Brenna Murray kept plays alive with her defense. In some of the long rallies, Murray gave the Lady Tigers another chance to put it away with a kill.
Such was the case in the opening set as St. David got a tip shot from senior outside hitter Ashlyn Trejo after an exchange of quality hits from both teams. That shot sparked a 5-0 run as Tigers gained a 21-17 lead.
The Cardinals bounced back with 7-2 rally, which was started by a nicely placed dink by junior Jaylyn Smith. Later in the rally, junior middle hitter Delila Nakaidinae added two of her nine kills for a 24-23 advantage.
On the net point, though, the Cardinals had a playable rally go awry on a misjudged shank ball. St. David then earned game point with a double hit call by the Cardinals.
St. Michael extended the set with a block by Nakaidinae as she tied the match at 25-all. Unfortunately, St. David closed out the set with a kill and a St. Michael hitting error.
In the next frame, the Cardinals had to play catch up as St. David gained an early 3-1 lead. St. Michael tied the set two times but in the middle of the set Trejo went off with four kills during a 8-3 run that gave St. David some breathing room with a 19-12 cushion.
That seven-point margin was enough to hold off St. Michael as the Tigers won 25-20.
“It was a little different trailing 2-0 in sets,” St. Michael senior setter Sierra Bedonie. “We needed to execute our serves and execute our serve-receive but we got a few passes into the net.”