Bellaire edges Cy-Fair for first Spring Branch ISD Tournament crown

posted Aug 23, 2015, 11:01 PM by Bellaire Volleyball   [ updated May 13, 2016, 2:35 PM ]
By Jack Marrion
Bellaire, West U, River Oaks Examiner

There is a new champion at the Spring Branch ISD Tournament.

Bellaire concluded an undefeated run through the prestigious event with two impressive victories Saturday, Aug. 22. The Lady Cardinals took down Fort Bend Austin in three sets in the semifinals, then turned back Cy-Fair in three thrilling sets in the championship match at Don Coleman Coliseum.

Bellaire swept Mayde Creek, Jersey Village and Spring Woods in pool play before sweeps of Foster and St. Agnes to begin bracket play. The Lady Cardinals rallied late to win an entertaining third set against Cy-Fair, prevailing 25-22, 22-25, 25-23.

“I’m very impressed,” Bellaire coach Gloria “AP” Clarke said. “We haven’t played this well all year. They’re very determined to show people what they can do, and they’re doing it. We have great senior leadership and a very athletic team.”

Bellaire finished a solid 5-4 at its previous tournament, the highly-competitive Adidas Texas Volleyball Invitational. But the Lady Cardinals were even better in Spring Branch.  A talented Austin squad entered its semifinal match, against Bellaire, as the defending SBISD champions. But the Lady Cardinals rose the challenge 25-17, 21-25, 25-18. Sundara Chinn hammered home 19 kills and made 24 digs against Austin, while Jade Robinson added eight kills, 18 digs and four blocks. Megan Evans set 38 assists, while Lauren Li had 14 digs and Ella Hawes had 13.

Chinn was superb in the final with 22 kills and 17 digs. Travana Matthews led with five blocks and added six kills. Megan Evans contributed 34 assists. Cy-Fair reached its second consecutive tournament final, compiling a 7-1 record at the Nike Volleyball Classic during the opening week. The Lady Bobcats started slowly against Bellaire, trailing 16-7 in the first set before eventually cutting the lead to two.

“We had to make some big adjustments,” Cy-Fair coach Donna Benotti said. “We had to completely change our offense. We transitioned to a 6-2 from a 5-1. People were playing out of position, but it was good to see they were able to make that adjustment.” The Lady Bobcats displayed their power at the net as the teams battled through two close sets. From Bellaire’s 7-5 lead to Cy-Fair’s 16-14 lead, neither team led by more than a point. But kills by Mekenna Merecka, Eliza Piccirillo, Sophia Black and Amanda Heller built a 22-18 lead that Alex Cormack put away.

The teams played evenly in game three before Cormack sparked a four-point run for a 20-17 Cy-Fair lead. Chinn kept Bellaire in the game before a timely switch to Matthews on quick sets. A clutch block by Li helped Bellaire tie the match and eventually pull ahead for good on two kills by Chinn.

The Lady Cardinals won despite trailing several times late in the third set against a talented team.

“They’re very confident in their side-out game,” Clarke said. “So when we get down two or three points, they’re very confident they can come back. That’s something a coach wants to instill in their team.”

Chinn was voted tournament MVP, with Megan Evans the top setter and Maya Evans also on the all-tournament team. Cy-Fair’s Heller was voted top attacker, with Megan Sullivan at libero and Cormack the third on the honor roll. The Lady Bobcats take an impressive 13-4 record into District 17-6A play, where they can expect more competitive matches like they encountered in the final.