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The Cardinal Newman Cardinals avenged last year’s loss to the Porter-Gaud Cyclones in dominating fashion winning 3-0 (25-11, 25-15, 25- 13) in the SCISA 4A State Championship match Tuesday, October 25 in Columbia.
“I’m very proud of my team’s performance tonight,” Cardinal Newman head coach Cynthia Dimapan said. “ We had lots of challenges this season. We’ve been working very hard. We’ve had some ups and downs throughout the season. We had a very strong start going 30-1. We ran into some bumps in the road.
My libero and one my best players, Victoria Harris, got hurt early in the season. It was definitely a challenge for us to overcome losing her for one month. I’m glad she was able to come back and play for us during the state tournament, during the playoffs, and this championship game. She made a difference.
I’m also proud of all my seniors, Anna Logan Gillens and Erin Allert, both have played for me for four years. Actually Erin has been playing since she was in seventh grade. I’m very proud of those girls.
I’m also proud of the newcomers on our team. We had new players step into our program. They trusted us. We wanted to make sure we took good care of them. We just wanted to mesh and win together.”
The two teams jockeyed for the upper hand early in the first set, tying five times before a point by Allert put Cardinal Newman on top for good. It was part of a 14-0 run that saw the Cardinals take an 18-6 lead. Christiana Greene, Victoria Harris, and Damia Ellis also scored during the run.
Porter-Gaud rallied with points from Allie Abernathy and Mirabelle Cutler to close the gap to 18-9. However, Cardinal Newman closed the door with a 7-2 run to win the first set 25-11. Allert and Greene scored during the run.
After Greene scored the initial point in the second set, Porter-Gaud got points from Charlotte Dalu to hold a 4-2 lead.
Cardinal Newman scored 10 of the next 14 points to take a 12-8 lead. Allert, Gillens, and Jala Dixon scored for the Cardinals. A point from Dalu closed the gap to three, before Cardinal Newman pulled away with a 9-1 run to lead 21-9 with points coming from Greene, Allert, and Jayden Johnson.
Following a Porter-Gaud timeout, the Cyclones tried to whittle away at the deficit, closing the gap to 23-15. However, Gillens scored the final two points to win the set 25-15.
The best fight Porter-Gaud put up on the night came in the third set. During the first 19 points, there were six ties. The Cyclones led 5-3 at one point following a score from Sarah Grace Champagne.
However, after Greene scored to break the final tie at 10-9, the Cardinals went on a run, this time 15-4.
Greene, Gillens, and Dixon all contributed during the run. Allert scored to make it 24-13 and blocked a shot that led to a miscue by the Cyclones to clinch the set, match, and championship for Cardinal Newman.
“ We just did our best to serve effectively against the other team,” Dimapan said. “We know whenever we are playing Porter-Gaud that they are an amazing team, that they are an amazing program. We know they lost nine seniors last year, and this was a rebuilding year for them. But we knew they were going to be right on our tails.
I have much respect for Porter-Gaud, their coach, and the program. They have a phenomenal program. We knew if we were going to win it we had to go out and crush it and not give them a chance to get into the game. We just wanted to take it to them this year.”
Greene finished with 15 kills, a block, and an assist. Allert had 11 kills, four assists, and three blocks; and Gillens had 13 kills.
“One of the strengths of our program is that we have lots of offensive weapons so just knowing that we have girls to anchor us across the front row with Anna Logan GIlliens, Erin Allert, Christiana Greene,” Dimapan said. “We had Jala (Dixon) coming into our program this year. It was all made possible by our libero Victoria. She provided stability to us on the back row.”
Cardinal Newman finishes the season with a 46-9-2 record.
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