VOLLEYBALL: Bengals tune up for stretch drive by taking Longhorn Invitational title

Bonanza’s girls volleyball team has three key league matches in the next two weeks that will determine its seeding for the Sunset Region playoffs.

The Bengals felt there was no better way to prepare than participating in the two-day Longhorn Invitational.

Bonanza won all seven of its matches in the tournament, finishing with a 25-17, 25-11 win over Spring Valley in the championship bracket final Saturday at Legacy High.

“To go undefeated in a volleyball tournament is a big accomplishment for any team,” Bengals coach Dan Savage said. “And it’s really big for us. We did it in a way, not only with our skill, but our passion this weekend. It’s putting us to another level right now.”

Sophie Cram, who finished with nine kills, two blocks and two aces in the match, was selected the tournament’s most valuable player.

“Sophie was hands down the best player in this tournament,” Savage said. “She’s such a dynamic player. She passes the ball so well that when she gets to the front row, we try to reward her with her great back-row play. She’s so improved as a passer and a server.”

Cram, a 6-foot-3-inch BYU commit, had six kills, one ace and a block in the first set. She served five straight points to break a 6-6 tie and give the momentum to Bonanza, which only dropped one set in the tournament. The Bengals stormed out to a 13-2 lead in the second set and never looked back.

“It feels so great,” Cram said. “My team and I worked so hard to make this an undefeated tournament, and I’m just proud of my team and all that we did.”

Claire Goodsell and Hayley Huntsman joined Cram on the all-tournament team. Goodsell had 10 digs and two aces, and Hunstman added 12 assists, 10 aces and six digs against the Grizzlies.

“To have a libero, a setter and a hitter play at such a high level is rare to get in high school with all the parity,” Savage said. “It’s rare to get highly-skilled players in those three important positions.”

Arbor View’s Jenna McClure and Hannah Goddard, Sierra Vista’s Bailey Bergquist, Cheyenne’s Bria Buchanan and Legacy’s Ashly Goor rounded out the all-tournament players.

Bonanza (22-11) pushed its winning streak to 12 matches.

“We told the girls that we need to use (the tournament) as a huge momentum builder going into Monday when we play Centennial,” Savage said. “At this time of the year, to be playing as well as we did here, is going to give the girls confidence. And sometimes when you give skilled players confidence, it’s a very good combination.”

Added Cram: “I’m really excited for playoffs. I think this is a great build up for how we want to go into them.”

Faith Lutheran 2, Country Christian (Ore.) 0 — At Phoenix, Megan Kronschnabel had 18 assists and three aces as the Crusaders topped the Cougars, 25-6, 25-16 in the Nike Tournament of Champions.

Cayla Nikodemus added six kills and three aces, and Casey Leonard had three blocks for Faith Lutheran, which got six digs from Bobbi Tharaldson.

Faith Lutheran 2, Thatcher (Ariz.) 0 — At Pheonix, Nikodemus had 14 kills and 10 digs, and Kronschnabel added 27 assists and six digs in the Crusaders’ 25-17, 25-21 win over the Eagles in the Nike Tournament of Champions.

Morgan Hill added four blocks and 10 digs, and Leonard had four blocks for Faith Lutheran.

Otay Ranch (Calif.) 2, Faith Lutheran 1 — At Phoenix, the Mustangs outlasted the Crusaders, 25-22, 21-25, 15-13 in the Pearl Bracket final in the Nike Tournament of Champions.

Nikodemus had 19 kills and eight digs, and Jordyn Dunseath supplied 10 kills for Faith Lutheran. Kronschnabel had 41 assists, and Elizabeth Tuls had eight digs for the Crusaders.

Round Mountain 3, Quest Academy 0 — At Centennial Hills YMCA, Round Mountain was a 25-10, 25-4, 25-18 winner over Quest.

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