â€œThird-time's-the-charmâ€ was the theme for Flintridge Sacred-Heart Academy coming into the CIF Southern Division IA volleyball championship on Nov. 17 at Cypress College.
Instead, the Tologs' season came to an end just days after upsetting top-ranked Santa Barbara.
Sacred Heart Head Coach Shelli Orlandini said her girls were underdogs all season.
The only time they played like one was against Mission League rival the Harvard-Westlake Wolverines, who beat the Tologs in four games in the title match, 24-26, 25-7, 25-21, 25-21, for the program's first title since 2001.
â€œWe'd done it before against Flintridge, but it's hard to beat a good team like that three times in a row,â€ said Harvard-Westlake senior Katherine Sebastian, who had 54 assists in the game. â€œBut all the worked paid off. We deserved this.â€
It appeared the match would require a lot of work to pay off, after the Tologs erased a three-point deficit to take the first game, 26-24 â€” a game that featured 11 ties and five lead changes.
After game two, however, it was the Tologs who needed to do some work. Trailing 9-5, Sacred Heart went into a tailspin after Marin Dennis had a 14-point service run to give the Wolverines a 23-5 lead.
It appeared the Tologs bounced back from the tough loss in the third game, keeping pace with Harvard-Westlake most of the way. Just like the first, game three featured 11 ties and eight lead changes, including what appeared to be the most important lead change of the game â€” when the Tologs took the lead at 20-19.
Yet the Wolverines scored the final four points of the game, taking the steam from any Tologs comeback effort.
The Tologs tried to bounce back in the final game, when a Katie Condon kill gave them an early 4-2 lead.
Harvard-Westlake scored 11 of the next 15 points, giving the Wolverines a 13-8 lead.
Both teams played evenly the rest of the game, and despite a furious comeback attempt by the Tologs to cut the Wolverine lead to 23-21, Harvard-Westlake held on to win the final game, 25-21.
â€œMaking the Division 1A finals is a feat in and of itself,â€ said Orlandini. â€œI'd like to play the second game over. But in the other two games, the way we fought back, it was awesome.â€
Despite the dismal second game, the Tologs (28-6) were led by Condon, who had 15 kills and 14 digs, while Samantha Orlandini had 33 assists, 15 digs, four kills and four blocks. Megan Meyers added 10 kills.
â€œI think [this win] demonstrates our hard work,â€ said Wolverine outside hitter Kasey Kissick. â€œIt was a battle of two even teams, and we just came through toward the end.â€
The hard work showed in the stats, as Emily Waterhouse had 19 kills while Megan Norton added 18 kills and Cathryn Quinn had 13 kills.
â€œI don't think we get to where we are without a great team like Flintridge playing against us,â€ said Wolverine Head Coach Adam Black.
Harvard-Westlake (26-4) moves forward, earning the top-seed in the eight-team Div. III Southern California Regional Tournament on Sunday.
They will host La Jolla (23-8).