ST. DAVID — A fitting end to a perfect season.
The St. David Tigers defeated No. 1 Mogollon Saturday to win the 1A State Volleyball Championship.
While some would see defeat of the defending state champions as an upset, longtime St. David coach Tylene Miller had summed up the season in the days prior to the state tournament.
“They have worked hard and overcome different difficult obstacles this year,” the coach said. “They have pulled together to play as a team. We are heading into state as No. 2. …. My girls have a great shot at taking State this year. With that being said it won’t be easy, there are a lot of good teams we’ll have to play. If they play for themselves, their teammates, with their talent, their hearts and have fun, that’s all I can ask. It’s a great group of girls.”
The assessment was prophetic.
The Tigers came from behind to post the 3-1 victory after dropping the opening set, 22-25, but stormed back to win the next three, 25-23, 27-25, 25-20, in a match that featured much give-and-take with lead changes throughout.
The Tigers, and Mogollon, breezed through the 16-team tournament bracket posting straight set wins through in the first three rounds. St. David defeated Valley Union, St. Michael and Williams en route to the championship game.
St. David’s hitters and blockers took over the net. Kayla Judd, 20 kills and 22 blocks, Megan Merrill, 18 kills, Jaylin Richardson, 16 kills and 17 blocks, and Kyra Richardson with 11 blocks, helped turn it around for the Tigers.
Defensively Brylee Murray had 34 serve receives and 32 digs and Sydney Klump had 37 digs and 12 serve receives.
Unbeaten throughout the season at 19-0, save for four tournament games that at times consisted of just one set, the state championship tournament on Friday and Saturday offered the perfect venue for the Tigers to showcase what Miller has been talking about all year: That when the ladies play loose and have fun on the court, the outcome is a positive one.
“I am so proud of these girls… they worked hard all year for this. All the titles are special in their own way, but to see the look on the girls’ faces after they take the title is worth all the hard work. To me it’s all about the girls and for them to believe in themselves on and off the court,” said Miller.
The players concurred.
“I feel like our team was pretty confident going to state because our coaches pushed us and prepared us as much as they could,” said Jaylin Richardson. “It was fun to play and grow together and reach our ultimate goal and win state. I feel as if we had a really solid and supportive team. It was a great way to end the season.”
“The championship game was the hardest game we played all season,” surmised Kyla Trejo. “But as we played together as a team, encouraged each other when we made mistakes and had fun, we were able to take the state title.”
“I am so proud of how our team came together,” added Kyra Richardson. “Ty always encourages us to smile and have fun, and that’s just what we did. We played our hearts out and supported each other.”
Fellow senior Megan Merrill summed it up.
“I am so grateful to be a St. David Tiger! It was so awesome to end my last year of playing with a bang Nothing compares to the feeling of winning that championship game — we worked so hard for that victory. I loved playing with such an amazing team. We supported each other and lifted each other up no matter what happened, on and off the court. We also had the greatest support from our coaches. They each believed in us and our abilities to play the game we know how to play and never quit pushing us. I’m going to miss it so much.”