It wasn't spoken, and only a few players on the Catholic High volleyball team admitted thinking about it. For Cubs coach Leo Matanguihan, however, the memory of his team's collapse in last year's Catholic League Tournament final was as vivid as ever.
"We wanted to learn from last year," Matanguihan said of the match that saw the Cubs take a two games-to-none lead, later coming within one point of victory, only to watch Mercy stage an improbable comeback to win in five.
Yesterday, however, the demons were at last exorcised.
Landing in the finals for the second straight year, No. 14 Catholic came away with a 15-13, 14-16, 15-9, 12-15, 15-6 win over No. 15 Archbishop Spalding at the College of Notre Dame.
"It's a big burden off my back," said Matanguihan. "We didn't talk about it, but I know that three of my key players who were in that match last year remembered what happened."
And Amie Robinson, Michele Chilcote and Angela Dockery played like it.
Robinson was all over the court, collecting 13 kills and serving a team-high five aces. Chilcote, who later was named the league's Player of the Year, added 13 kills and four aces. Dockery chipped in with five kills.
"We tried not to dwell on anything that happened last season," said Chilcote. "We were confident in our skills, and we pulled together as a team."
Twice the Cubs (16-1) came from behind to win games. Trailing 12-8 in Game 1, they scored seven of the final eight points, led by the hitting of Robinson and Shelly Cerny (six kills).
With the match at one game apiece, they again found themselves trailing. But down 9-5, they rallied for the final 10 points to take control of the match.
"The whole match was a roller-coaster ride," said Spalding coach Linda Taylor. "It was up and down all night. I don't personally like roller coasters, they make me sick. I would have liked my team to have maintained some kind of level on the court."
Crystal Henderson and Sandy Sandifer paced the Cavaliers (10-5), helping them rally from eight points down to win Game 2, but in the end, the Cubs just had too much.
The win was Catholic's third straight over Spalding this season. This one, however, was by far the most memorable.
"For some of us, this is our last year as players," said Robinson. "We came in here with a new attitude. We just really wanted to win it."