Players on the Archbishop Spalding volleyball team felt they had something to prove heading into this weekend's Catholic League Tournament at Seton Keough.
Though the Cavaliers finished 6-4 in league play -- good enough for third place -- they lost a pair of close matches to champion Seton Keough, and believed they were capable of beating the Gators.
Yesterday, in the tournament final, Spalding turned that thought into a reality.
The Cavaliers started slow, but got stronger throughout the match in a 10-15, 15-8, 15-12, 15-5 victory, giving them their second straight tournament title.
"We were just really, really motivated," said Spalding's Crystal Henderson, who led all players with seven kills. "Everybody wanted to win this to show that we were number one."
The Cavaliers went a long way in proving that Saturday when they upset No. 2 seed Mercy in five games. Yesterday, after dropping the first game, the Cavaliers picked up where they left off.
Behind the strong serving of Courtney Parker and Catholic League Player of the Year Carrie Parsons, they used crisp passing to rally from a 7-4 deficit in Game 2 to win 15-8.
The third game was nearly a repeat performance. Seton Keough built a 5-0 lead only to see Spalding score six of the next seven points. Parsons led the charge with three kills during the rally, helping the Cavaliers gain control of the match.
With Spalding leading, 14-11, the Gators suffered a crunching blow when middle hitter April Moore fell to the ground with a knee injury. She was transported by ambulance to Saint Agnes hospital, where she was treated and released.
.3l Her loss, coupled with the Gators' loss of standout setter Meghan Gross -- out with an illness -- left Seton Keough severely depleted at two of the most important positions.
"When you're missing your setter and your middle hitter goes down, it's hard to regroup," said Gators coach Karen Janney, who was forced to use Katie Loovis, one of her top hitters, at setter. "We started off strong, but we just couldn't carry the momentum."
After a 22-minute delay, Spalding went on to win Game 3, 15-12, and cruised to an easy win in Game 4.