Centurion girls’ volleyball (33-2) has officially checked off its biggest goal of the season and won CIF.
Saugus defeated the Campbell Hall Vikings (29-10) in straight sets to become Division 4 champs in front of a loud and packed gym at Golden Valley on Saturday.
The Centurions won the championship match with scores of 25-18, 25-9 and 25-19.
The Foothill League champs were once again led by junior opposite hitter Taylor Treahy, who knocked down a game-high 16 kills including the final point to make Saugus champions.
“The girls’ goal was to win CIF,” said Centurions head coach Zach Ambrose.”That was a goal and it was a lofty one. They had the talent to do it, but it’s a mixture of luck, being good at the right times, weathering injuries and sickness and we were able to put it all together.”
The Vikings would present the Centurions with their biggest test of the postseason in slowing down outside hitter Mila Mijailovic. The junior outside has amassed over 500 kills this season with a strong swing and the ability to hit from all over the court.
Saugus was able to limit Mijailovic to 11 kills.
“She’s got a great arm. She’s able to hit everywhere,” said Ambrose. “We knew we weren’t going to stop her. But if we could just slow her down just a little bit and keep her under her normal status, we knew we would have the ability to make runs off of that. And that’s what we’re able to do.”
The Centurions came out swinging and as a team registered 13 kills from five different players in the first. The champs ran wild as their blocking and balanced attack rattled Campbell Hall, who fell into an 18-7 hole in the first set.
The Vikings fought back into the game but Saugus setter Milani Lee ended the set with a kill.
The Long Beach bound setter was a little more aggressive in the title match. Lee was noticeably more active on the attack and finished with four kills.
“I was so excited today, I was really pumped,” said Lee. “I especially wanted to get some blocks knowing that their outside is really good. And then just being really deceptive to try and jump, working really hard on every ball,”
The gym started to shake in the second set as fans of both teams were making a ton of noise. Saugus fed off of it and jumped out to a 6-0 lead. Middle blocker Shelby Scott registered four of her nine kills in the second set and was a big part of slowing down Mijailovic, with five blocks.
The Viking star found some rhythm hitting from the back row but it wouldn’t be enough to close down Saugus’ immense lead. The Centurions went on a 9-0 run to close out the set ending with a Treahy kill.
“I was really nervous at first but then after I got a couple of blocks and I was fine,” said Treahy.
Campbell Hall was clearly not ready to go home and started swinging away in the third set. Swings from outside hitter Sabrina Starkman kept Saugus from pulling away before consecutive aces from Mijailovic put the Vikings up 6-4.
One of the most memorable plays of the night was a kill from Mijailovic. The outside took a big rip at a ball on the net but was blocked by two Centurions. However, the deflection bounced off Mijailovic’s head over to an empty space on the Saugus side to tie the game at 11.
The Vikings kept pounding but Saugus was just too good.
An ace from Morgan Yoder would put the team up 22-15. Another Treahy kill would set up match point at 24-16 but the Vikings kept fighting and went on a 3-0 run.
However, Treahy’s big swing and her 16th kill would end the night for Campbell Hall.
Saugus completed a perfect CIF run going 4-0 with four sweeps. The team has put in tons of work this season to become league and CIF champs.
“Countless hours in the classroom watching film, being able to critique themselves and see how they can improve as well as practice on the court,” said Ambrose. “They were invested. It wasn’t just show up for practice and go home. They put in extra work when they wanted to work in the classroom, and it paid off.”
Both teams will move on to the CIF state tournament next week with their destinations to be determined on Sunday.
Campbell Hall still has a chance to add some hardware to its incredible year. The Gold Coast League champs will be fighting to get into another title game.
The Centurions also have no desire to stop playing and will compete until their last point. Saugus will be a tough task for any state tourney opponent.
“I’m just really excited for state,” said Lee. “And I’m also so sad because like with state, it’s just like playoffs. If you lose one you’re out and I want to play as much as I can with this team because I just love everyone on it so much.”