Knights win district title; Provets down St. Michael’s
AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Holy Cross, Providence.
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Holy Cross hadn’t defeated Victoria St. Joseph in the previous eight years of its history, but the Knights accomplished it for the second time this season Oct. 21 to secure first place in TAPPS District 4-4A.
The Knights (35-13, 15-1) dropped Game 4 and fell behind in the decisive game. However, they surged into the lead, watched St. Joseph (41-2, 15-1) recover and then put the match away by scoring five of the last six points.
“They got a head start, but we kept our poise,” Holy Cross coach Ruben Calderon said. “Victoria came into the game with momentum. I’m happy we were able to make those (kills).”
The Knights won the first-place tiebreaker match 25-20, 25-16, 19-25, 21-25, 15-12 against the two-time state semifinalist and defending district champion. The Flyers won the first meeting between the teams on Aug. 27 at Holy Cross.
“That just helped us build our confidence,” Knights junior Victoria Gonzalez said of the regular-season victory Sept. 30 at St. Joseph. “We became a better team because of them.”
The victory advanced the Knights to the area round. Providence (18-19, 7-9) won two matches last week and also will play in the area round at Houston St. Agnes.
Holy Cross was scheduled to play Houston Northland Christian (19-8) at noon Friday. If they win, they’ll play the Austin Regents-Fort Bend Christian winner in the state quarterfinals at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Gonzalez suggested that Holy Cross wants to keep its momentum alive all the way to the state championship.
“This is huge for our program,” Calderon said. “It’s really motivated our kids. They played very smart and very
focused. This had been a huge missing piece for our program. I think we’ve gotten there.”
Victoria St. Joseph had a 3-1 lead in Game 5 when Gonzalez, who contributed three blocks, made a kill that landed just inside the back line. The game progressed point-by-point until the Knights grabbed a 6-5 advantage on a setting error.
The Flyers tied it with a block, but Gonzalez started a string of three-consecutive points with a back-row kill. With Kimberley Butcher (28 assists) serving, the sophomore setter hustled to make a tip and St. Joseph made an error that gave the Knights a 9-6 lead.
Despite the tie, they never trailed again.
Anna Zuniga was able to put down a tip off a misplaced set that maintained a 10-8 edge. A kill from sophomore outside hitter Henrianna Ibarra (29 kills, 3 aces) held the margin with a kill off a great pass.
“As a captain, I knew I had to carry my team,” Gonzalez said. “Henrianna and I had to get them going. Once we get going, nobody can stop us.”
A soft kill from Carly Moran and kill from middle blocker Christina Janak enabled the Flyers to tie the score 11-11. However, St. Joseph made a hitting error and Gonzalez skied for a big kill to make it 13-11. Freshman Autumn Lopez followed with an ace that put the Knights at match point.
Successful serving was a key to Holy Cross’ victory.
“Our game plan was to serve short and keep them out off the net,” Calderon said. “After the first two games, they made adjustments. After that, I called a timeout and we started serving deep. Fortunately, we were successful.”
After a Holy Cross point, Ibarra finished the match with a soft kill. Libero Daisy Flores produced 29 digs for the Knights.
The Provets found their way to Houston St. Agnes by winning a fourth-place tiebreaker at
Cornerstone Christian Oct. 21 and a bi-district match 26-24, 21-25, 25-15, 25-20 at Austin St. Michael’s (17-12) Oct. 24.
Freshman Jazzmyne Williams led Providence against St. Michael’s with 17 kills and four aces. Mia Ybarra distributed 31 assists.
Providence will play Austin Hyde Park Baptist (21-14) 6 p.m. Friday. The winner could play either Victoria St. Joseph or Houston Lutheran South at 1 p.m. Saturday in the quarterfinals.