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Gaels knock off Centennial to wrap up Southwest volleyball title

With the Southwest League title on the line and facing a rowdy atmosphere, Bishop Gorman’s girls volleyball team found a way to flourish Wednesday.

The Gaels persevered for a 25-19, 22-25, 25-18, 25-18 win at Centennial.

“We’ve gone to a couple tournaments and played some of the better teams from out of state so we can be ready for environments like this,” said Gorman coach Ed Van Meetren, whose team completed a 10-0 league slate. “That’s really paid off.”

Gorman (26-7) entered the league finale with a one-game lead over Centennial, thanks to a five-set home win over the Bulldogs on Oct. 15.

On Wednesday, roughly 50 Centennial students made a section inside the gymnasium known as the “Dawg Pound.” Bulldog fans jumped up and down all match chanting, “Bulldogs, Bulldogs, Bulldogs.”

It wasn’t enough to hinder the Gaels, who were led by libero Shelly Laman. She finished with 29 digs and three assists.

“Shelly Laman had a monster night,” Van Meetren said.

Gorman took the opening set and appeared to be on its way to a big lead after pulling ahead 20-16 in the second set.

The Bulldogs (20-11, 8-2) fought back, finishing the set on a 9-2 run to even the match.

Gorman kept a balanced attack throughout the night to come out on top and win the next two sets.

“When we’re going like that and we have that balance, we’re a tough team to compete with,” Van Meetren said. “I think that’s the key for our team.”

Emma Kirst had 13 kills for the Gaels, who got 12 kills and three blocks from Francesca Manz. Emma Filosi also contributed 51 assists and five kills for Gorman, which is hoping to make a return to the Division I state tournament this season. The Gaels advanced to the state semifinals last year.

“Our ultimate goal is all the way, and we have enough talent to do it,” Van Meetren said. “We have enough size, everything is there. It just depends on how strong we are mentally and how well we hold ourselves together emotionally.”

Nani Padilla-Perez had 10 kills and 11 digs to lead Centennial, which also got 11 kills and seven digs from Tiana Bonds. Kristi Farley added 36 assists and three blocks for the Bulldogs.

“That’s a good volleyball team,” Centennial coach Scott Nelson said of Gorman. “They’re one of the best in Southern Nevada.”

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