4A SUNSET VOLLEYBALL: Abbey Archambault, Gaels put away Shadow Ridge

Bishop Gorman didn’t set Abbey Archambault often on Saturday.

But as one of the few seniors on a young team, the Gaels went to her when it mattered most.

Archambault recorded the final two kills of the match as Gorman knocked off Shadow Ridge 18-25, 25-19, 25-16, 20-25, 17-15 in the Class 4A Sunset Region girls volleyball title match at Coronado.

“She did a phenomenal job,” Gorman coach Ed Van Meetren said. “She struggled against Shadow in our previous matches, but she came out tonight and had a monster one. A senior’s got to take care of business at that point in time, and she did it.”

The Mustangs, who won the previous two Sunset titles, looked like they were about to claim another championship after they took an 11-7 lead in the fifth set.

But after a timeout, Gorman (27-10) scored five of the next six points, tying the match on a kill by freshman Tommi Stockham.

“We’ve been practicing, especially the last half of the season, being down and coming back,” Van Meetren said. “And it showed at the end of the game.

“When I called that timeout at 11-7, they didn’t panic, they stayed with their game plan and came back and executed what we had to do.”

Stockham played a huge role, finishing with a team-high 18 kills. Fellow freshman Hanna Karl had six kills and 12 digs.

“My freshmen are not freshmen anymore,” Van Meetren said. “They played beyond their years. I think one’s 14 and one just turned 15 and it’s hard to believe they’re that young. But they played like seasoned veterans.”

After Shadow Ridge (27-7) took the first set, the Gaels got a boost from junior Kylie Gibson, who had eight of her 12 kills in the next two sets to help Gorman take the advantage.

Van Meetren said the key was attacking when Shadow Ridge star hitter Whittnee Nihipali was in the back row.

“That was the biggest thing we did,” Van Meetren said. “We took advantage of those rotations and we scored our points there.”

Nihipali led Shadow Ridge with 22 kills, but had a total of five in the second and third sets. She rebounded with six kills in the fourth set to keep the Mustangs alive. Autumn Spendlove added 33 assists for Shadow Ridge.

Sydney Lobato had five kills, three blocks, three aces, 13 digs and 31 assists for the Gaels. Archambault had five kills, four aces and three blocks.

Gorman plays Douglas in the state semifinals at 5:30 p.m. on Friday at Damonte Ranch High in Reno.

“I can’t take anything away from Shadow,” Van Meetren said. “They’re a great team. But today we wanted it more.”

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