Sports

Sacred Heart Prep brings home volleyball runner-up trophy

 
Cate Desler (5) prepares to play the ball. Photo courtesy of Sacred Heart Prep Athletics.

When it comes time to reflect on Sacred Heart Prep's girls volleyball season, the one thing that will continually stand out is how well the Gators worked together.

Sacred Heart Prep took on every challenge, winning most but losing some, without complaint and with no excuses. The Gators lost in in the CIF state championship Division II game Saturday, 25-18, 28-26, 25-22, to Sierra Canyon at Santiago Canyon College in Orange.


Reagan Smith goes on the attack. Photo courtesy of Sacred Heart Prep Athletics.
They may have left the gym disappointed but they had every reason to hold their heads up. For a team that did not win a league or section title, Sacred Heart Prep was still standing on the final day of the season.

Based on a new seeding structure this year, the Gators can claim they are among the 35 best teams in the state regardless of Division. They have the results to prove it.

The state tournament was not seeded following traditional enrollment based divisions but rather by regular season results. Earning the third seed in Division II meant the Gators were considered the 19th best team in Northern California.

(Menlo School was seeded sixth in the Open Division and Palo Alto was seeded fourth in Division I or 12th overall).

Sacred Heart Prep finished third in the West Bay Athletic League, though all four losses were to Menlo and Notre Dame-Belmont, the two most recent state Division IV champions before Presentation won it this year.

The Gators produced 29 victories, including wins over CCS Division I champion Carlmont, CCS Division IV champion Notre Dame and Monterey Bay Gabilian League champion San Benito.

Every loss was to a league, section and/or state champion. Sacred Heart Prep earned its spot in the state finals.

Sierra Canyon swept through Gold Coast League play without dropping a set in 12 matches. The Trailblazers then won all nine tournament matches dropping just four sets.

Trailblazer libero Zoe Fleck will be at UC Santa Barbara next year and their top hitter May Pertofsky has committed to Michigan.

All this rambling leads to Sacred Heart Prep's four seniors: Cate Desler, Haley Martella, Caroline Caruso and Celia Charlton, who helped compile a 55-21 record over the past two years. Statistically, they combined for 726 kills, 24 blocks, 197 aces, 1,035 assists and 893 digs.

SHP coach Allison Magner consistently held them up as emotional leaders who helped bond the Gators into something larger than the sum of their players.

The seniors were also driven by last year's seniors, who helped the Gators reach the NorCal regional semifinal. This year they wanted to tribute that legacy and they went two steps beyond.

Sacred Heart Prep returns plenty of talented players. The rest of the team combined for 973 kills, 52 blocks, 155 aces, 217 assists and 286 digs.

Sophomore Elena Radeff and junior Ally Polverari recorded 274 and 262 kills, respectively.Junior Alexa Bartlett and sophomore Reagan Smith each produced more than 150 kills.

Polverari led SHP with 78 aces and Radeff was the team leader with 23 blocks. Katie Quinlan averaged 4.4 assists per set. Lindsey Johnston, Evelyn Sutton and and Eliza Foley each recorded double figures in digs.

The WBAL already seems to be looking competitive next year.

— Rick Eymer/Palo Alto Online Sports

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