Singles sweep sends defending champion Gaels into girls state final

The Class 4A state semifinal wasn’t taxing enough for Bishop Gorman’s Sarah Toti, Anita Lee and Sarah Bessen.

The Gaels’ three singles players all stayed to hit Thursday after their team’s 14-4 win over Bishop Manogue at Centennial Park in Carson City.

“Sarah, Sarah and Anita felt like they didn’t play well and stayed around to hit,” Bishop Gorman coach Gordon Hammond said. “I kind of just leave them alone. They know what they’re doing. We kind of take them for granted sometimes.”

The three singles players each went 3-0 as Gorman advanced to a state championship matchup with Galena on at 9 a.m. on Friday. Galena was an 11-7 winner over Green Valley in the other semifinal.

Lee, a junior and last year’s state singles champion, has helped the Gaels win the last two state team titles. Gorman has won three straight and 14 of the last 20 girls team crowns.

Toti, a sophomore, contributed last season, but Thursday was Bessen’s first effort in a state semifinal.

“She was very solid,” Hammond said. “She was nervous before the match, but she played as though she had been here before. It was neat to see.”

Allie Beckett and Blair Bigelow went 2-0 in doubles for the Gaels.

“We need our doubles to win in all positions,” Hammond said. “Allie and Blair did a good job.”

In the morning semifinal, Green Valley had trouble handling the pressure of a state tournament and fell to the Grizzlies.

“The girls didn’t play well,” Green Valley coach Holly Basinger said. “We lost some tiebreakers. We just didn’t know how to handle the pressure.

“We have some really strong younger girls, but they got really nervous.”

Jessica Hsu, a senior, went 3-0 in singles for the Gators, but Green Valley never got any momentum in the match.

“Jess is a top-quality athlete through and through,” Basinger said. “She has had a great season.”

The Sunrise Region champion Gators, who finished the season at 10-4 overall, were a bit of a surprise team entering the postseason. The team finished in a three-way tie with defending Sunrise champ Coronado and Silverado for first place in the Southeast League.

“I’m proud of our girls for the overall season,” Basinger said. “This will help our younger kids really grow.”