Warriors can't knock off favorite

Brethren Christian girls' volleyball Coach Patricia Daugherty knew it would take an all-around performance by her team Saturday if it hoped to knock off top-ranked St. Margaret's in the CIF Southern Section Division 4AA championship match.

The Warriors played well in spurts but weren't completely on their game and St. Margaret's got the best, once again, of their Academy League rival.

The Tartans won in a sweep, 25-8, 25-18, 25-14, to improve to 3-0 this year against the Warriors.

"They are a very good team," Daugherty said of the Tartans. "They play good defense and they picked everything up today. We didn't hit or serve as well as we normally do, and you have to be at your best to beat them."

St. Margaret's, in a CIF final for the seventh time in 11 years under Coach Susie Maga, rolled in the opening game to set the tone for the rest of the match. The Tartans (18-3) were never really threatened, although Brethren Christian made things interesting in both the second and third games.

St. Margaret's won its fifth Southern Section title and its first since 2002.

Brethren Christian (16-6) was playing in its first final.

The teams were knotted at 9 in the second game when the Tartans went on a 6-0 run to assume control. They eventually built the lead to as much as eight points and came away with a 25-18 win.

In the third game, the Warriors rallied from a 9-4 deficit to tie the score at 11. But consecutive kills by senior middle blocker Erika Page started another 6-0 run by the Tartans that allowed them to go in front, 17-11. A block at the net by Warriors' junior middle blocker Meghan Haney ended the run.

St. Margaret's took the match on kill by junior setter Emily Moore to clinch a 25-14 victory and the crown.

Despite the loss, Brethren Christian will join St. Margaret's in the CIF State Division 4 playoffs that began Tuesday. The Warriors, the No. 6-seed in the Southern Division, played at third-seed Central Valley Christian of Visalia.

To reach the Division 4AA final, Brethren Christian swept Buckley (Liberty League No. 2), then Sunkist League champ Patriot and in the quarterfinals, upset Condor League champion and second-seed Laguna Blanca in three games. The Warriors then took down Camino Real champ Serra in four games in the semifinals to reach Cypress.

"We were very much underdogs all the way through," said opposite Rebekah Rudd, one of four seniors on the Brethren Christian squad and co-captain, along with senior outside hitter Randi Braak. "We were a little nervous at first, but it was nervous anticipation. It's a sad ending, but a good experience."

"I'm very proud of my team for getting this far," said Daugherty, who is in her first year as coach of the Warriors. "We didn't play as well as we could have, but my girls really are Warriors and they fought to the end.

"This is the first time Brethren Christian has played for a CIF title in girls' volleyball and I'm very blessed to be coach of this team."

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