Faith Lutheran lost eight players off last season’s volleyball squad, so naturally coach Amy Fisher had early thoughts that 2018 might be a rebuilding one for the Crusaders.
That worry was premature.
Faith Lutheran needed only 75 minutes to down Rancho 25-20, 25-18, 25-18 in the Class 4A Mountain Region semifinals at Eldorado.
The Crusaders (25-14) will meet Palo Verde in Friday’s final at 7 p.m. at Coronado.
“These girls have worked their tails off,” Fisher said. “They have set goals all year long and to be in the regional final is great. Rancho is a very fine team and they played well tonight. We have lots of respect for what they have accomplished.”
In the opening set, the Crusaders rode the spiking of Anna Massari to grab a 14-9 lead. The Rams could not inch any closer than five points in the first set.
Rancho (18-13) grabbed a 12-11 lead in the second set, but the Crusaders got key kills from Kyrie Loring and Blair Bram as Faith Lutheran rallied to take a 2-0 cushion.
The Rams enjoyed a 17-14 lead in the final set, but following a timeout, the Crusaders found their composure once again and closed the match with an 11-1 run.
“We are peaking at the right time,” Fisher said. “We have something special, and now we can go out Friday and have fun.”
Lauren Tomita had 15 digs for the Crusaders, and teammate Maggie Skinner added 14 digs. Massari and Lorfing each had nine kills, and Isabelle Guerrero and Hailey Carroll chipped in eight kills each for Faith Lutheran.
Mia Suzuki had 23 digs and three aces for the Rams. Leah Miller added nine kills, and Angelina Robles finished with 11 digs and seven kills for Rancho.
Palo Verde 3, Las Vegas 1 — In the second semifinal, the Panthers earned a rematch with Faith Lutheran with a 26-28, 25-11, 25-19, 25-20 win over the Wildcats.
Palo Verde (29-7) scored the final three points of the match, then quickly turned its attention to the rematch with Faith Lutheran.
“It’s going to be fun,” said Panthers coach Phil Clarke, whose team won a five-game thriller at Faith Lutheran on Oct. 11. “The first meeting could have gone either way. Both teams played at a high level, and Friday should be no different.”
Arien Fafard led the Panthers with 44 assists and eight blocks. Alex Anderson-Smith added 14 kills, Liz Gutierrez had 13 kills and Kaila Yang added 11 kills for Palo Verde.
Brooklyn Stone had 44 assists and 12 digs to lead Las Vegas (25-10). Skyla Faught chipped in with 28 digs, 15 kills and four aces, Victoria Barney finished with 25 kills and 23 digs for the Wildcats.