The St. Anthony girls’ volleyball team had its thrilling CIF Southern Section playoff run come to an end on Saturday night in the Division 5 semifinals. The Saints went toe-to-toe with the top team in the division, Ontario Christian, but the visiting Knights finished stronger in a 25-17, 25-27, 25-20, 16-25, 15-7 win.
St. Anthony (22-11) has already qualified for the upcoming CIF State playoffs thanks to its three dramatic postseason victories.
“That was the best match we played all year,” St. Anthony volleyball coach Alisha Lemau’u said. “That was up there with being in the actual championship game. (Ontario Christian) is the number one seed for a reason, and they looked it.”
Junior Tiare Jennings led St. Anthony with 15 kills, while setter junior Isabella Bareford finished with 47 assists, five kills and a pair of aces.
“To keep on grinding and going after it has been so much fun,” Bareford said. “Everyone has been playing their butt off. This was one of our best matches, unfortunately we couldn’t finish at the end, but I loved every second of it.”
St. Anthony sophomore Sam Ashworth, junior Gabby McPherson and sophomore Jaena Bell all had seven kills. Sophomore Mariella Vergera finished with a game-high 20 digs, and freshman libero Antonia Bareford had 16 digs. The Saints had nine aces.
“My kids battled, and surprised themselves I think,” Lemau’u said. “I hope now they believe in the team they are.”
Ontario Christian (33-2) flexed its muscles in the first set while senior Annaka Jorgenson put down five of her game-high 17 kills in a 25-17 win. St. Anthony bounced back with solid defense in a 27-25 second set victory, but the Knights led wire-to-wire in the third set to put the Saints’ backs against the wall. The young squad respond with a rousing 25-16 fourth set win, but Ontario Christian dominated the fifth set.
“We never want to feel like this again,” Lemau’u said. “We need to work on our fifth game energy. Tonight it looked like we were glad to go to a fifth game, instead of going to take the fifth game.”
CIF State brackets will be released next week.
VIDEO: St. Anthony vs. Ontario Christian, CIF Girls’ Volleyball