Notre Dame Prep made it look easy.
A year after the Saints fell short of the 4A Conference title in the championship game, Notre Dame showed its athleticism and talent across the court Saturday afternoon at Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum. The top-ranked team once again, the Saints cruised to a 3-0 win over Canyon Del Oro to win the 4A title — 25-10, 25-20, 25-12.
“Last year was heartbreaking so it’s been a long year,” Notre Dame coach Holly McLean said. “To wait one whole year to get redemption, it’s been hard. We’re so thankful we were able to stay healthy and stay together as a team.”
The Saints dominated from start to finish in the first set, countering nearly every attempt from the Dorados to secure a point in the set. In a matter of minutes Notre Dame had a double-digit lead in the set thanks to strong play from sophomore Evan Hendrix and seniors McKenna Douglas, Sophia Garrow Ross and Keira Ryan, who had the final point for the Saints.
Lexi Yoza, a junior setter for the Saints, routinely assisted her teammates for kills. Hendrix was on the receiving end of most as she would seemingly float through the air toward the net for the kill.
Even when Canyon Del Oro responded in the second set, Notre Dame never wavered. The Saints were calm, cool and collected throughout the match and in long volleys, often winning them by tiring out their opponent.
“We took it one point at a time,” Hendrix said. “I think we really did well focusing on what’s going on in the moment … our energy was really good and I think our serving really helped us in the beginning. I really had no doubts.”
Head coach Holly McLean said she was impressed with the way her team responded to the small bouts with adversity. Canyon Del Oro went on a small run in the final two sets but never gained enough momentum to make a difference.
She said her team’s determination stemmed from the leadership from the senior class.
“We’ve been kind of growing up together. I took the job three years ago,” McLean said. “We’ve been growing together, me as a coach and them as players building this program. They’re going to leave behind a huge hole in our hearts but we’ll remember them always.”
Garrow Ross, one of six seniors on the Notre Dame Prep roster, was all smiles after the victory. Last season, Notre Dame fell short in the final to Salpointe Catholic, another foe from Tucson.
The heartbreak the team suffered in last year’s final as the No. 1 seed motivated them throughout the club season and into AIA play this year.
They wanted the title. And on Saturday, they took it with ease.
“I waited four years for this,” Garrow Ross said. “We worked so hard for this all year, every year. This is a great way to end the season and a great way to end my high school career. We’re just so happy to pull out a win.”