For the first time since 1997, the Bishop Diego High girls’ volleyball team will play in a CIF Championship match after sweeping visiting St. Monica Catholic 25-18, 25-20, 25-13 on Saturday afternoon at the Brick House.
The Cardinals did not drop a single set in Frontier League play this season, and the streak has continued deep into the CIF-SS Division 7 playoffs. A talented roster that was battle hardened by a tough non-league schedule has allowed Bishop Diego to steamroll all challengers during the final stretch of the season.
“This has been a group that has worked really hard this year. We didn’t get a season last year. We had to play on the grass,” said Bishop Diego coach Dillan Bennett. “Anybody who has us play knows that they love to play together.”
The Cardinals are led by sisters Alina Urzua, Siena Urzua and Eliana Urzua. Alina and Eliana both finished with eight kills against St. Monica. Setter Amy Mancinelli also had a very strong match, spreading the ball around on time and on target.
“This team is amazing together, and we have such good chemistry, and I just love playing with them,” Mancinelli said. “I have reliable hitters that I can always go to if I need to get the point down.”
Bishop Diego struggled initially to overcome a St. Monica team that was very solid defensively, and it took a while for the Cardinals to break away in set one. Despite clinging to a 16-15 lead midway through the set, Bishop Diego closed strong and took a 1-0 set lead on a cross-court spike by Aliana Urzua.
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In set two, the Cardinals led 22-20 before closing on a 3-0 run and clinching the set on an errant pass by the Mariners.
In the final set, Bishop Diego jumped out a 5-0 lead on a solo block by Eliana Urzua and cruised to victory.
“This is a school that historically has been very successful in volleyball. It just so happened to be 40 years ago,” Bennett said. “It’s finally turned back around. We have a group of sisters that are really leading the charge.”
Bishop Diego will host the CIF-SS Division 7 championship match next week at a day/time to be determined.
Santa Barbara 3 South Hills 0
The Dons advance to the CIF-SS Division 6 Championship with a 25-23, 25-17, 25-19 victory over visiting South Hills.
Santa Barbara finished second in the Channel League but notched late-season victories over rivals San Marcos and Dos Pueblos and have carried that momentum all the way to the championship match, which they will host next week at a day/time to be determined.