GVB: Energized Owls sweep Cate to earn share of Condor title

The jam-packed Laguna Blanca gym was rocking with excitement, and the Owls volleyball team fed off that energy, playing with passion and aggressiveness to sweep Cate and earn a share of their 12th straight Condor League title with the Rams on Wednesday night.

In a battle between the No. 1 and 2 teams in the CIF 4-A Division, second-ranked Laguna Blanca prevailed 25-19, 25-23, 25, 19. Adding frosting to the cake, the Owls also won the post-game coin-flip to determine which team would go into the playoffs as the league?s No. 1 entry.

Laguna Blanca will likely be the division’s top-seeded team and Cate figures to be No. 2 when the playoff bracket is announced on Saturday. The teams went 7-1 in league.

The Owls were paced by sophomore Phoebe Madsen. She recorded a double-double with 11 kills and 10 digs, and was a menace at the service line. In fact, the serving by the entire Laguna Blanca lineup gave Cate fits.

Phoebe Madsen had 11 kills and 10 digs to spark Laguna Blanca to a sweep over Cate.

Phoebe Madsen had 11 kills and 10 digs to spark Laguna Blanca to a sweep over Cate.

?As a team, we?ve been working on serves every single practice,? Phoebe Madsen said. ?We all served really well; we all went aggressive. We weren?t holding back.?

Laguna Blanca senior setter Clara Madsen (Phoebe?s sister) did a terrific job distributing the ball to her hitters. She recorded 35 assists. Hannah White was the kill leader with 14, and Grace Woolf put down eight kills

Cydney Pierce led Cate with 12 kills and Delaney Mayfield added nine in the middle.

With the crowd roaring on every play, the teams went back and forth for the first few points. Laguna Blanca took control of the first set after a Phoebe Madsen kill gave it a 9-8 lead. The Owls scored the next five points, capitalizing on bad passes by Cate and getting kills from Luisa Cameron, Phoebe Madsen and Woolf on a nifty back set from Clara Madsen.

?We kind of put it on ourselves,? Cate coach Greg Novak said. ?We couldn?t get the ball to the net to run our middles and that?s where we score a lot of our points.?

The Owls? lead blew up to 19-10 on an ace by Phoebe Madsen.

?I think one of the reasons why we were so energetic and able to push through those games was we were just getting pumped up all the time,? said Phoebe Madsen. ?We were feeding off it. It was amazing. It?s the best thing I?ve ever felt.?

Said Clara Madsen: ?It was the biggest crowd I played in front of, and this is my fourth year. It was incredible; we just fed off their energy It was such different environment ; it was wonderful.?

They said they weren?t at all nervous because they were looking forward to the rematch. They were swept at Cate.

?We started preparing for this game in October after we lost to them,? Clara Madsen said. ?We were ready, we had a game plan. The last time we were nervous. We decided to come in relaxed and have fun and that?s what we did.?

Laguna Blanca continued to put pressure on Cate in the second set and roared out to a 16-8 advantage. The Rams settled down, worked their way back into the match and took a 20-18 lead. Pierce went on a five-point serving run, put away some balls from the back row and Mayfield scored from the middle to spark the comeback.

But the Madsens brought Laguna Blanca back. The sisters scored four of last five points for the team, and Clara Madsen fed Woolf for the winning kill.

?They?re awesome,? Laguna coach said of the Madsens. ?They?re both great athletes and great competitors. And, they have great chemistry.?

Novak said his team played better in the second set, but errors destroyed their momentum.

?It just seemed like we?d make a great dig and we?d have a net (violation). Cydney goes back to serve and she foot faults, and she never foot faults. It wears on you a little bit.?

The Owls built a 13-7 lead in the third set, staved off a Cate comeback and finished off the set before being mobbed by the jubilant student section.

The team captains and coaches then met for the coin-flip, and the Laguna girls were screaming for joy again when the coin came up heads.

It was their night.