St. Joseph volleyball to play for state title
TAPPS 4A STATE VOLLEYBALL FINAL
ARLINGTON GRACE PREP VS. ST. JOSEPH
9 a.m. Saturday
Blossom Athletic Center, San Antonio
SAN ANTONIO - Familiarity didn't lead to contempt for the St. Joseph Lady Flyers.
Instead, playing Austin St. Dominic Savio for the third time in 42 days led to a sweep and a berth in the TAPPS 4A final.
Senior outside hitter Carly Boles had 13 kills, junior libero Peyton Cuellar added 16 digs and junior setter Natalie Bales added 29 assists to help St. Joseph to a 25-21, 25-22 and 25-22 sweep of Dominic Savio at the Blossom Athletic Center on Friday.
"When you play teams, you get more comfortable with them and they start becoming natural," Bales said. "You can react to what they give you. They didn't change any of their game, which helped us a lot."
The win sets up a TAPPS 4A final matchup against Arlington Grace Prep on Saturday at 9 a.m.
The teams split their first two games with Savio sweeping St. Joseph in Austin on Sept. 20 and St. Joseph winning a five-game match in the TAPPS 3-4A tournament final in Victoria on Oct. 20.
The loss in Austin was also St. Joseph's last one. Friday's win was the 11th straight for the Lady Flyers. St. Joseph is 34-5 this season.
"Is there is ever a time for it to come together, I think it's right now," St. Joseph co-coach Allyson Griffin said with a smile.
A bus accident on Oct. 13 didn't deter the team and Cuellar said it gave the Lady Flyers a new purpose.
"Ever since the bus wreck, we are sisters," Cuellar said. "We're so bonded that nothing can rear us apart and that just gives us so much determination to kill people when we go out on the court."
Lauren Kurtz had a strong game defensively with six digs and two blocks while Bales and Boles combined for seven aces.
The Lady Eagles had the height advantage up front with senior outside hitter/middle blocker Ana Mooney and junior middle blocker Abigail Miksch. The duo stood 6-foot-1 and 6-foot-3, respectively, but defensively, St. Joseph had the answers.
"They were tall, but they weren't as strong as they looked and that's something the middles can use to hit off of," Bales said. "You use them as a tool instead of a blocker."
Added Boles: "We knew how they hit, we knew how they tipped, we knew, we knew where to block and where to put our defense at. That helped us in the long run."
The match began as a back-and-fourth-affair in Game 1 with Savio holding a 14-12 lead, but neither team managed to score more than three consecutive points against the other.
That all changed with the play of Boles.
Boles layed down a spike and Savio's Jenna Minor committed a service error that tied the game at 14 points apiece.
Boles had two more kills to and a Natalie Bales ace capped a 7-1 Lady Flyers run that gave them control of the match.
"They are no doubt a great team, we were just stronger mentally today," Griffin said.
A service error by Miksch gave the Lady Flyers command of the match in Game 2. After the mistake, a Boles block sparked a 5-0 St. Joseph run that gave it a 19-13 lead.
Grace Prep comes into the state final riding a 17-game win streak.
"The look scrappy, not a lot of height, they're a good team," Griffin said.