Santa Clarita Christian girls volleyball received hardware for their semifinal win (25-11, 24-26, 25-13, 25-11) against Garces Memorial on Tuesday and will play Skyline High School for the CIF Division V state championship on Friday.
The Cardinals were all smiles taking postgame photos with their CIF plaque and sporting their medals for placing in the top three in the CIF state playoffs. Garces Memorial was also honored with a plaque and medals for their achievements after a hard-fought match by both teams.
The first set was a dominant win for the Cardinals as they controlled the tempo. Nevaeh Phillips contributed many saves and a kill to have the Cardinals at set point, and a follow-up kill by Hannah Shaffer allowed for the set win.
Head coach Darcy Brown said the team let Garces Memorial start playing more aggressively, and the Cardinals settled back.
“We just made too many errors and let them kind of pounce, so our goal was to take that back in the third and fourth set,” Brown said.
Shaffer logged 20 kills and 16 digs, while Phillips had 17 kills, 15 digs and two aces. Kaysa Brown made eight kills, 32 assists and three aces.
Garces Memorial responded with an early lead in the second set and made the Cardinals work for every point. Both teams quickly fought for every point, but Garces Memorial took the set win, giving Santa Clarita Christian just their third set loss all season.
According to Darcy Brown, The Cardinals had the will and fought to win and maintained a good mindset even with a set loss.
“To stay mentally tough has been one thing that we’ve really been working on and we see how it can destroy teams on the other side of the net,” Darcy Brown said.
The third set saw the Cardinals regain their momentum and improve their communication and execution, quickly taking the lead and finding a groove.
Darcy Brown said she kept telling Phillips and Shaffer to hit soft or hard, change the angle and continue to create variety so Garces Memorial wouldn’t be able to stop the plays.
Shaffer said the change-up with her strikes allowed her to be effective and prevented Garces Memorial from getting comfortable with one spot.
“Going through my head was just to terminate and I just thought, every ball I had, I really just wanted to finish the play,” Shaffer said.
The final set saw the Cardinals in high spirits, ready to close the match. Kaysa Brown quickly made an ace, helping to create point separation between the teams.
Shaffer and Phillips, with the help of their team, began striking heavily on the wings with no effective response from Garces Memorial. Saves from Chaney Brooks and other teammates allowed the Cardinals to keep Garces from logging many points, putting the Cardinals up by 14.
Shaffer credited the team effort and everyone coming together and rallying from that second-set loss and working to win.
“We were really focused on staying together as a team and not becoming individuals,” Shaffer said. “I think we did a really good job of that and it showed in the score.”
The Cardinals take on Skyline High School for the CIF Division V state championship 4 p.m. Friday at Santiago Canyon College in the city of Orange