For the sixth time in as many years, the St. John's volleyball players huddled around the banner of the D.C. State Athletic Association – this time they raised six fingers to mark their last victory. Cadets swept away Sidwell Friends on Friday 25-20, 25-23, 25-20 to remain the only winners of the DCSAA since league start in 2013.
"I think we're starting to like the challenge; every year, it's becoming harder and harder to win, "said coach Bill Pribac. "For us, continuing to participate in this competition so late in the year says a lot about girls."
St. John's (24-8) defeated the Quakers (21-6) in the Trinity University Championship Game with their punchy style of play, taking a seven-point lead early in the first set. The cadets applauded enthusiastically when Sidwell asked for a timeout in the set, as if the championship was almost won.
Lead smuggler and tournament MVP Lauren Antonucci helped the cadets establish an aggressive presence at the net, making assists to put Sidwell out of position.
"We all have very strong personalities, and I think it shows on the [court] with our energy, "said Antonucci.
Sidwell followed the two-set cadets and threw everything he had into St. John's in hopes of spoiling the sweep. The Quakers struck early in the third set, aiming to bring out a 7-3 lead on the outside corners. Madison Kilpatrick, the right-winger from St. Johns, teamed up with junior Nicole Taylor in front of goal to allow Blocks to block Sidwell's momentum.
The cadets rallied to take their first lead of the set at 15-14 and never give up.
With the help of a competitive field at the Washington Catholic Athletics Conference, St. John's won the DCSAA title with minimal complications. For cadets, six years of titles have created a winning culture.
Antonucci, who has won four titles in St. John's, said the team's history gave players a competitive advantage in tight sets.
"As a team, we continued to remember that it was our title," said Antonucci. "We have won it for six years and we want to keep it."
Kilpatrick was confident that future St. John's teams will continue the tradition of domination in the tournament.
"We are all proud of each other and hope to continue to do so over the next six years," said Kilpatrick.