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St. Anthony's wins CHSAA girls volleyball title

St. Anthony's outside hitter Julia Forster.

St. Anthony's outside hitter Julia Forster. (Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan)

Yet to drop a game to a league opponent all season, St. Anthony’s girls volleyball found itself trailing 15-7 to Kellenberg on Tuesday evening in the first game of the CHSAA championship match.

Coach Donna Newman called timeout, hoping to stem the momentum. It worked, as St. Anthony’s (16-0) rallied in the game and completed a 3-0 sweep to advance to the state championship on Saturday at St. Francis Prep.

“I said we have to go back to playing aggressive and not go point-to-point,” Newman said about the early timeout.

It was Samantha Zubeth who stepped up for the Friars, serving 10 straight points to put St. Anthony’s back ahead. It was back-and-forth until the final point of the game before Julia Forster, who finished with 18 kills and was named the CHSAA player of the year after the match, smashed a winner to end the frame, 25-22 in favor of St. Anthony’s.

It was more of the same in the second game – a tight affair that took until the end to decide but eventually went to St. Anthony’s, 25-22.

“It was the biggest challenge in the league,” Newman said. “I wasn’t concerned with dropping a set as much as what their mindset would be (if they did.) They realized after the semifinal that they hadn’t dropped a set. We had to know Kellenberg was going to be ready to play and if we dropped a set would we be able to continue to play our game?”

The Friars were able to continue playing their game and excelled offensively, securing the sweep with a 25-15 victory in the third game. It is the sixth time in seven years that St. Anthony’s has advanced to the state championship. Zubeth was named the MVP of the tournament. Bridget Hartill had 39 assists and Madison Fulford added 10 kills.

“They were determined,” Newman said, with the sting from last years upset loss to Sacred Heart fresh in their minds. “We didn’t want to feel what we felt last year. Starting in August they knew they wanted to return to the championship game and take what was theirs.”