When you become a champion, you can do just about anything.
In this case, St. Francis High School volleyball players rolled up to their Homecoming dance on Saturday night in game jerseys and shoes while wearing their new Sac-Joaquin Section championship hats like a crown.
After two lower-division section title games were played earlier in the day at Natomas, the Division l final between Oak Ridge and St. Francis stood as the main event. A packed house saw the Troubadours power past Oak Ridge in three sets — 25-21, 25-18 and 25-13 — behind Alexa Edwards’ 16 kills and four blocks. Ellie Eichhorn added eight kills and 23 assists The win marked the program’s 13th section championship and first since 2012.
“I am so proud of this group of girls,” St. Francis coach Alynn Wright said. “They have set lofty goals for themselves all season. (Winning a section championship) was one of them. Our team has shown a lot of grit this season.”
Last season, St. Francis was upset in five sets by the same Oak Ridge team in the section final. This time, they would not be denied the title.
“We had a chip on our shoulder coming into this game,” said Edwards, the Pacific-bound senior. “We haven’t won the last two years, but two L’s make a ‘W’ right? So I told my team let’s get the win tonight.”
Wright has been a part of every big game you can imagine since she started coaching at St. Francis in 1988. Her decorated coaching career includes 23 league titles, 13 section championships and a CIF State Championship in 2005. She has also coached some of the best players Sacramento has ever seen.
“This is still fun for me,” Wright said. “I am still learning the game by watching other players and coaches. When the game stops being fun, that’s when I’ll stop coaching. I’m blessed to be able to coach at St. Francis and coach really dedicated student-athletes. They make my job fun.”
Saying these last few weeks has been fun is an understatement.
Her daughter Taryn, an assistant coach on her staff and a star on the 2004 state championship team, gave birth to a baby girl last Wednesday. After the big day, Wright was back in the gym coaching her team in a quarterfinal game against Turlock.
“Our motto is family always comes first,” Wright said. “Our players understood that I couldn’t be at practice. I think they were just as excited as me to see the new baby.”
The Troubadours (36-2) have yet to lose a game to a Sacramento-area team this season and lost only to Bay Area powers Palo Alto and Archbishop Mitty.
Wright sees lots of similarities on this year’s team compared to her 2005 state championship squad. The goal for this team is to just keep advancing.
“Our goal is to be playing in two weeks (for a state championship),” Wright said. “I think on any given night, anybody can beat anybody and we will have that mindset going to the state playoffs.”
St. Francis plays host to Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland on Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the Northern California Open Division of the CIF State Girls Volleyball Championships. All section finalists advance to the CIF NorCal rounds based on seed.
Sac-Joaqun Section Girls Volleyball Championships
Division ll: No. 1 Tracy 3, No. 3 Lincoln-L 0
Both Lincoln and Tracy were fighting for the first section championship in school history on Saturday at Ripon High.
Tracy came out swinging early and often to knock off the upstart Zebras in three sets. Lincoln is having its best season in school history and will advance to the NorCals. This year saw the Zebras win their first league championship since 1975 under first-year head coach Jeff Deter.
Division lll: No. 2 Central Catholic 3, No. 1 Nevada Union 1
Nevada Union was seeking its first section championship since 2008 and eighth overall Saturday in Natomas but ran into small-school power Central Catholic. The Miners entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed and also had the most wins of any area team with 41.
Division lV: No. 2 Escalon 3, No. 4 Union Mine 2
A back-and-forth game at Ripon between Escalon and Union Mine gave the fans plenty to cheer for. Escalon won the first, third and last set to claim the school’s first section championship. Union Mine was seeking its second championship, winning its lone banner in 2011.
Division V: No. 3 Ripon Christian 3, No. 1 Colfax 0
Colfax’s hopes of winning its first championship were dashed at Natomas. Ripon Christian defeated the Falcons in straight sets to win its first title since 2011. Ripon Christian now has 16 blue banners — which ranks first among section teams. This was Colfax’s third straight title appearance.
Division Vl: No. 1 Stone Ridge Christian 3, No. 3 Forest Lake Christian 0
For the second consecutive season, Stone Ridge Christian beat Forest Lake Christian in the finals. Stone Ridge Christian has been in the finals six of the last seven years — winning its first title in school history last season.
CIF State Girls Volleyball Championships
Here’s a look at Sacramento-area teams in the CIF State Girls Volleyball Championships. All games Tuesday unless noted. Go here for full brackets.
No. 6 Bishop O’Dowd at No. 3 St. Francis (Wednesday)
No. 12 Cosumnes Oaks at No. 5 Pleasant Valley
No. 10 Nevada Union at No. 7 Oak Ridge
No. 16 Christian Brothers at No. 1 Los Gatos
No. 15 Rocklin at No. 2 Aragon
No. 12 Carlmont at No. 5 Lincoln
No. 9 Cardinal Newman at No. 8 Vacaville
No. 10 Rio Americano at No. 7 Hilmar
No. 10 Union Mine at No. 7 Aptos
No. 13 Los Molinos at No. 4 Colfax
No. 12 Vacaville Christian at No. 5 St. Vincent de Paul
No. 10 El Dorado at No. 7 Convent & Stuart Hall
No. 15 East Nicolaus at No. 2 Nueva School
No. 6 Forest Lake Christian at No. 3 San Francisco Waldorf