Eagles soar above Falcons to claim Div. III volleyball title

By: Matt Long/Telegraph Sports Editor
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Team defense and an offense featuring multiple options lifted Vista del Lago’s varsity girls’ volleyball team to a second-straight Division III section championship on Thursday, as the Eagles defeated top-seeded Christian Brothers in four games, 25-20, 22-25, 25-19 and 25-13. Except for the second game, the Eagles controlled the Falcons, leading most of the way in the three wins, including a dominating performance in the final game when the Eagles jumped out to a 9-1 lead and never looked back. “It’s awesome to win two straight section titles,” Vista junior outside hitter Caroline Sipiora said. “There are no words to describe it. I think we played very well considering the pressure of the game. I still think we can go a little further with it and play even better.” Vista will have that chance on Tuesday when they host a Northern California playoff game. The Eagle defense was exceptional against the Falcons, particularly the play of the back row, where Christian Brothers had trouble finding the holes. Vista libero Jordan Cryderman led the way, but everyone who played in the back got the job done. “Defense was the key to the win,” Vista coach Patrick Sanders said. “That’s how it’s been for us all year. The back row was great all night.” Sipiora added, “Before the fourth game coach told us that if we played solid defense we would win the game and we did. We were digging everything.” Cryderman echoed the defensive theme. “On every timeout coach was telling us don’t let the ball drop and I don’t think we let any balls drop in the fourth game.” If defense was the key to the fourth game, then Sipiora was the difference in the opening 25-20 victory. The Eagles’ leader was on fire, hitting winners from all over the court. The teams took turns leading, but the Eagles took the lead for good on a Sipiora kill at 19-18. Sipiora had earned the Eagles three of the previous four points as well. “I was so pumped and so excited,” Sipiora said of her inspired play. “Caroline is the complete player,” Sanders added. “She plays libero for her club team and outside hitter for us and she could probably set for us if we asked her too. She leads by example too and the girls follow her.” While Sipiora led the way in the first game, her teammates picked up the slack the rest of the way. When Sipiora wasn’t getting the kills, Kelsey Sampson and Kara Campbell were taking sets by Faith Smith and putting them away on the outside, while Kendell Moore did the same in the middle of the court. Hallie Robertson also contributed inside and defensively, while Summer Nichols made her presence felt from the service line. More than anything else, team play led to the solid victory in the third game, which gave the Eagles momentum heading into the fourth and final game. Before the match even started, Sanders relaxed his team with his pre-game speech. “He just told us that no matter what happened tonight that he was proud of us,” Cryderman said after the game. “It feels amazing that all our hard work paid off.”