For the ninth consecutive year, the St. Thomas Aquinas girls’ volleyball team reigned supreme.
Led by sophomore Olivia Mogridge, freshman Zy’Aire Barr and senior Mya Bowers, the Aquinas front line proved too much as they rolled to a 25-15, 25-14 victory over Cypress Bay for the BCAA Girls Big 8 Volleyball Championship at Pompano Beach High on Thursday.
The Raiders (17-7) remain the only team in tournament history to win the championship.
“Being offensive was huge for us and our blocking,” said Aquinas coach Lisa Zielinski. “That inhibited their offense. Our height and front row play was also huge.”
This victory was about the Raiders’ height dominating a shorter Lightning front line.
That enabled Mogridge, at 6-foot-4, to finish with 10 kills and a block. Barr and Bowers each added six kills.
“Olivia played both inside and outside and was able to play different roles for us,” Zielinski said. “For her to be that successful at different position as a sophomore is kind of a big deal.”
Aquinas (17-7), who is also the defending Class 7A state champ, only has three seniors having played an aggressive schedule to prepare for tournaments such as the Big 8.
“We played very well tonight and played as a unit,” said Mogridge. “We came her to show what we are made of heading into districts next week.
St. Thomas only trailed once through the match at 1-0 in the first set. The Lightning (18-4) was on the defensive most of the match which kept them from stringing points together.
“St. Thomas is extremely offensive, physical and big,” said Cypress Bay coach Ore Pablos. “At the end of the day we are missing blocking assignments.”
Junior Erin Engel also finished with 13 assists and five digs for the Raiders. Even when Cypress Bay attacked, the Raiders had an answer with Alysssa McBean and Shannon Schulte keeping the ball in play with eight digs each.
In the deciding set, Cypress Bay was able to tie the score at 8-8, before Aquinas rolled off five straight points while finishing the match with a 17-6 run.
Aquinas advance to the final with a 25-18, 25-17 semifinal victory over rival Cardinal Gibbons. Cypress Bay reached the final with a 23-25, 25-16, 15-12 victory over Coral Springs Charter.