Girls’ volleyball earns state title with finals sweep

Kasey Kissick ’08 prepared to serve the final point of Saturday’s CIF Division III State Championship match in San Jose as the severely outnumbered Wolverine fans held up one finger. She served an ace, and the girls’ volleyball team celebrated in a huddle at mid court, much like the previous 19 games of their undefeated streak through league, regional and state competition. After just 59 minutes of play, the team captured the state title, sweeping Sacred Heart Cathedral of San Francisco in straight sets, 25-12, 25-12, 25-20.

“It feels good, really good,” Head Coach Adam Black said. “Part of me is just relieved because I can finally get some sleep, but yeah, it’s definitely awesome.”

The Wolverines got off to a quick start, gaining a 3-0 lead in the first set on three consecutive kills from middle blocker Cathryn Quinn ’08. Quinn and sophomore outside hitter Meg Norton combined for 11 of the Wolverines 29 total kills in the set, and a 16-6 final run propelled the team to a one set lead over the Irish.

“We came out attacking and got it going right away,” Quinn said. “Volleyball is momentum-driven, and we took it right off the bat.”

After the Wolverines resoundingly won the second set, the Irish took its first lead of the match. Down 8-10, Norton shifted the momentum as she dove to reach Sacred Heart’s return on her own serve, setting up a Wolverine point. The team won the next point, tying the game 10-10, and maintained the lead for the remainder of the game. Kissick’s ace sealed the victory, and gave the Wolverines their first state title since 2001.

“Even when we got down, we knew that we could pull through and get it done,” Norton said. “It’s such a surreal moment. This is the state title, and we finished it off. We won it in three sets.”

As a first year starter on varsity, Norton’s final game this season is a far cry from the one she played in last year. Now the championship MVP with a match-high 16 kills, Norton was called up for the 2006 postseason, only to play three points in which she committed two errors.

“I never thought it could happen,” Norton said. “This is my first full year on varsity, and to win state and get MVP, it’s indescribable.”

Norton isn’t the only one whom Black thinks has matured.

“I’m impressed by how hard the girls have trained and how much they’ve improved,” he said. “Quinn and [Katherine Sebastian ’08] matured into real leaders, and others matured by learning how to be for a team, win or lose.” Jokingly, Black added, “It’s easier when you’re winning, of course.”

For the team’s 10 seniors, the win ensures that their legacy will be left on the walls of Taper Gym, something Quinn has been looking forward to ever since seeing her sister’s name enshrined on the banner from 2001 state champions.

“It’s been a dream of mine since before I came to Harvard-Westlake,” she said. “The last three seasons were great, but to have my name up there forever, this year really made it all for me.”