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Photos by Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Concordia’s DeJour Young spikes the ball past the Bishop Dwenger defense during Saturday’s SAC volleyball tournament finals.
SAC volleyball tournament

Cadets survive against Saints for 6th crown

Final was hard fought between storied rivals

Bishop Dwenger’s Jennifer O’Daniel spikes the ball back to Concordia during the final.

– Familiar rivals Concordia and Bishop Dwenger took to the North Side court Saturday in the SAC volleyball tournament finals.

The Cadets squeezed out a 2-0 win over the Saints to secure the program’s sixth conference tournament championship. The teams hooked up in a long match, even though it went only two games in the best-of-three format, with Concordia winning 31-29, 25-21.

“For a preseason match, it was a great battle,” Concordia coach Trish Miller said. “For two teams early in the season, they were both playing really good volleyball and neither wanting to lose. We were just staying relentless in our pursuit of never giving up and staying mentally tough.

“(The tournament) is something you always want to win. No matter what, you are going to go back and you have a lot of work to do. You see all these teams, and you know they are going to get better.”

First-year Bishop Dwenger coach Tim Houser was an assistant for Miller the past six seasons.

“Obviously Houser knows our kids, and I coached six of their kids in the offseason so you know a lot of their tendencies and whatever,” Miller said. “It was fun to play well, and I thought we got better as the weekend went on. It was fun to compete against Houser but weird to see him on the other side.”

The competitiveness was also felt from Houser.

“That’s where I came from, and it was fun because (Miller) wants to compete, and I want to compete,” Houser said of Concordia. “We are good friends, but we fight when we are on the court.”

Concordia (4-0) lost in the 2012 SAC tournament finals to Bishop Luers in three games. Junior Tionna Williams, who led the Cadets with 12 kills against the Saints, sat out that loss last year because of an injury.

“It just means all our hard work and sacrifices that everybody has made over the summer to get better and work together, … and it is that bond that helps us pull through,” Williams said. “Just sitting on the sidelines you get to see a lot more things that you would normally miss when you are playing. It changes your perspective and things you can see and bring it out on the court and do better next year.”

The Cadets’ DeJour Young and Erica Shively each added six kills.

The sixth title puts the Cadets two behind Northrop’s all-time record of eight. Bishop Dwenger won five straight titles from 2006 to 2010. The Saints beat the Cadets in 2010, the last time the teams met in the finals. Dwenger also beat Concordia in the 2009 finals.

Bishop Dwenger (3-2) got nine kills from Megan Coffin and five digs from Abby Sordelet and Abbie Grace Lee. The Saints lost to Bellmont in five games Tuesday.

“Against one the better teams we will face this year, and we gave them everything they wanted,” Houser said. “It’s early, and they are still learning my system. We are adjusting. Everything is going to pick up.”

gjones@jg.net

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