In front of a jam-packed gym that resembled a championship match, the St. Anthony girls found themselves against the ropes against Valley Christian early on during their CIF Division 4 quarterfinal contest.
The Defenders jumped to a fast lead and didn’t look back as they took the 25-13 win in the first set.
“Valley Christian just took control in the first set,” St. Anthony coach Alicia Lemau’u said. “We’re a momentum team and that start really gave our team some adversity.”
St. Anthony bounced back in the second set to even things at 1 with a 25-20 win.
After trading wins in the third and fourth sets, Valley Christian won the fifth set and the match 25-13, 20-25, 25-16, 20-25, 25-17.
“This was a true championship environment,” Lemau’u said. “This is probably the best outright sport atmosphere I’ve been a part of.”
The Saints got stellar performances from Isabelle Bareford and hitters Sam Ashworth, Jaena Bell and Gabby McPherson.
Bareford had 47 assists, while Ashworth, Bell and McPherson had 18, 15 and 13 kills respectively.
For Valley Christian, Dakota Quinlan and Rachel Gonzalez were dominant for the home team as they forced the Saints into uncharacteristic passing errors with solid hitting.
After the match, Bareford had a moment to reflect on her time with St. Anthony and what it meant to play with this year’s team.
“Being able to play with my sister and a great group of seniors, it was so unbelievable,” Bareford said. “I’m really bummed we weren’t able to pull it through, but they played really good volleyball tonight and we played really hard.”