A year ago, Northwestern High School didn't even have a volleyball team. After a win yesterday against host Southern, however, the Wildcats have earned the right to play top-ranked Centennial for the Class 3A, Region III championship.
Led by the net play of Tiffany Watson and the all-around hitting of Patty Ferrante, third seed Northwestern defeated second seed Southern, 15-5, 5-15, 15-12, 15-7.
For Ferrante, a transfer from Patterson, it was a matter of mental preparation.
"We knew it was do or die," said Ferrante, "so we just pulled together and concentrated."
Ferrante, the only active senior, was critical to her team's success.
With the Wildcats leading 4-1 in the second game, she was forced to the sidelines with a contact lens problem. Northwestern lost the next six points until her return.
"When we lose her, we have to fight to stay up mentally," said Northwestern coach Lillian Brown. "This team is very, very young -- literally just out of phys ed class. Patty and Tiffany [Watson] are extremely important to the team."
This young Northwestern team (14-2) will travel to Centennial tomorrow at 5 p.m. to face the top-ranked Eagles in the regional championship game. Seven of its nine players are in 10th grade or below.
"It will be a challenge," said Brown. "I'm proud of the kids for getting as far as they have, but I'm not really looking forward to playing Centennial."