A match that started with numerous huge runs ended with one as Campbell Hall Vikings girls’ volleyball took down the Hart Indians on Wednesday.
Campbell Hall won the match, 20-25, 25-19, 25-19, 25-21.
The Vikings (29-4) trailed 21-17 in the fourth set but climbed back into control on an 8-0 run to close out the match and the Indians’ season.
Outside hitter Sierra Starkman gave Hart fits from the end line during the run, where she capped off the match with two of her five aces.
All-CIF outside hitter Mila Mijailovic led the Vikings with 20 kills.
Hart started off the match as well as it could’ve as the Indians rocketed up to 9-0 lead on the first set. It took some time but Campbell Hall shook off the slow start and tied the game at 12-12 off a kill from senior Maggie Lima.
The kill was part of a Vikings’ 7-0 run, which the Indians coincidentally answered with a 7-0 run of their own. The scoring frenzy was the second of three big Hart scoring sprees, something new for the Indians.
“That’s new for us,” Hart coach Mary Irilian said. “It was surprising looking at Campbell Hall and how they came out so low. I told the girls that no one wants to lose. Everyone’s gonna fight. So no matter what the lead is, we can’t let that determine our play. We’ve kind of battled with that all season where we would unfortunately have these huge leads, and then lose them.”
Outside hitter Maiah Jiz got off to a hot start for the Indians and sealed the first set with her fifth kill of the night. Jiz also added 13 digs on the night.
Starkman ended a long defensive stand by Hart in the second set. A huge rally was sparked with multiple digs and blocks sent back by the Indians.
Indians’ libero Alexis Holloway led the defense with 38 digs. Setter Morgan Dumlao finished with 34 assists.
Hart senior Madison Maxwell sparked the second game after a slow start. Maxwell tallied 10 of her match-high 21 kills in the second and also finished with 16 digs and an ace.
Maxwell’s kills weren’t enough to take the set and a block from middle blocker Katie Scutucchio ended the game.
Hart again jumped out to a huge lead and went up 8-1 in the third set. Campbell Hall continued to show grit and find ways back into the mix. A kill from Mijailovic tied the match at 12-12, but Starkman again stole the show.
“I think the challenging part for us was just, with all the leads that we had, just learning to get out of those dips faster,” Irilian said. “We had several rotations per set where we got stuck in it for six or seven points. And I can tell it starts to become defeating for the girls.”
Starkman registered four of five straight points for the Vikings with a kill and three aces. Campbell Hall again found a comfortable lead as a kill from Starkman ended the set.
Maxwell came out on fire early in the fourth game, knowing the season was on the line. The Long Beach commit registered five points and led Hart to a 9-3 lead. The Indians sparked their final big run of the season, scoring eight unanswered points before the Vikings settled in and came back.
Junior Allison Wieckowski was also crucial to Hart’s success in the fourth, as the outside hitter finally got going. Wieckowski added six of her nine kills in the fourth set.
“(Wieckowski) was unstoppable,” Irilian said. “She really stepped up, which was what we needed to build the excitement and also take the pressure off of other hitters. It gives (Maxwell) an outlet and gives Morgan more options.”
The Vikings started slowly chipping away at the lead and eventually found themselves on an 8-0 run to win the match. Mental mistakes killed the Indians in the final stretch and even the loud, rattling crowd of Hart faithful couldn’t deter the Campbell Hall momentum.
Hart now retires a decorated senior class. Maxwell, Dumlao and Holloway all captured or came within inches of school records. Martina Neveleff will be a tough middle to replace while Jiz’s improvements at the outside position were vital to Hart’s league championship season.
“They’re an amazing group of girls,” Irilian said of her seniors. “They have so much grit and resilience. They work so hard outside of the gym. It’s going to be hard seeing them not here next year. Hopefully some of the other girls can step up into some big roles and fill some big shoes.”
Wieckowski returns to the team along with talented sophomore Olive Moore, who played a big role on a senior-heavy team this season.
Campbell Hall avoided having its CIF run end in Santa Clarita for the second consecutive year after the Vikings fell to the section champions Saugus Centurions in 2022. The Vikings head into the CIF semifinals on Saturday on the road against the South High Spartans at 6 p.m.