Lions fall to Saints in 5A final

Published 1:39 pm Friday, October 31, 2008

The third time wasn’t the charm as Briarwood hoped Thursday, as St. Paul’s swept the Lions for its third Class 5A volleyball state title at the Pelham Civic Complex.

“There’s a lot of college teams that probably couldn’t beat that team out there today. I thought we played absolutely awesome. We don’t base our whole season off one game,” first-year Briarwood head coach Justin Dee said. “These seniors (Amy Hale and Lauren Parks) have left a legacy at Briarwood. They’re the only players to go to the state three years in a row and get in the top two.”

It was the third-straight meeting between Briarwood and St. Paul’s in the 5A championship, as Briarwood lost the previous two years in five sets. This year, the Saints were determined to win it in three and Briarwood was hoping to pull off a miracle upset. The Saints met their goal 25-11, 25-23, 25-20.

The Lions fell behind 2-0 to start the first set, but rallied to take a 6-2 lead. Both teams battled to even the first set at 11-11, before St. Paul’s ran away on a 14-point run, winning the set, 25-11. The run was one of the Saints’ longest this season.

“We just wanted to three-peat. That’s been our goal all year long, and three’s been a special number for us, especially in the tournament,” said St. Paul’s head coach Kelli Hillier, whose team swept all three matches at the tournament in three sets.

Briarwood jumped out to 2-0 lead in last year’s tournament, before the Saints rallied to win. That comeback went through players’ minds on both teams after Nancy Taylor put away a close second set for the Saints, 25-23.

“It’s not over, it’s not over,” Taylor said of her thoughts at the time.

Hale said it entered her mind as well.

“We knew coming in we’d have to play flawless, and I don’t think we did that, but we gave our best effort,” Hale said.

Parks said passing is where she and the Lions broke down.

“We just didn’t pass it like we needed to and didn’t quite get it up to our setter. We let them chip away one at a time,” she said.

Both Hale and Parks were named to the All-Tournament Team.