As they practiced on the court before the CIF State Division I girls volleyball final, members of Granite Bay’s squad wore black T-shirts adorned with a snarling bear and the caption, “Defending the Den.”
With that den moving nearly 500 miles south to Santiago Canyon College, defending it proved difficult –though ultimately successful.
The Grizzlies won their first state championship Saturday night by defeating Los Alamitos 25-22, 14-25, 25-19, 25-17.
“This is what we put our effort into,” senior outside hitter Maddy Deters said. “This is so amazing. It’s a great way to end our senior year.”
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Deters finished with 17 kills and 24 digs while teammate Nicolette Pinkney pounded 18 kills and served three aces, and Taylor Nelson passed for 48 assists.
But Granite Bay (45-0) had to repel an opponent that proved difficult to subdue.
“Los Al is a very well-coached team and they have awesome athletes,” Grizzlies coach Tricia Plummer said. “They were aggressive from the very beginning and they didn’t let up. But we kept pushing.”
Plummer said she believes her players’ resilience made the difference.
“They don’t give up and they never will,” Plummer said.
“They play with a lot of heart and a lot of fire. They love this game and they do it together, like a family.”
The Grizzlies twice built a 7-point lead in the first game before the Griffins (35-6) narrowed the deficit to 20-19. Brigid Bell smashed two kills as Granite Bay extended its lead to 23-20 before playing a critical role on the next point.
Bell leaned to keep a spike from Los Alamitos’ Crissy Jones in play, then Brooke Hershberger added another dig before a pummeling a spike to give the Grizzlies a 24-20 lead.
The Griffins ended the second set with an 11-1 blitz to break Granite Bay’s winning streak of 23 consecutive sets. The Grizzlies made 11 hitting errors and hit minus .045.
But the third game proved pivotal.
Granite Bay recovered from a 5-2 deficit to force three ties, the last at 7-7. Then with Deters serving, the Grizzlies scored the next five points. Pinkney contributed a kill and a block assist to the spree.
Los Alamitos closed to within 13-11 but the Grizzlies used an 8-2 surge to take control. Pinkney had two kills and an ace, and Hershberger added a kill and a scoring tip.
In the fourth game, the Griffins twice moved within one point. But with Granite Bay holding a 15-13 lead, the Grizzlies scored five of the next six points to expand it to 20-14.
Jones tied Pinkney with 18 kills but Los Alamitos hit just .167 for the match.