TOC: Mitty outlasts La Salle to repeat as champion

It was like a championship fight.

Defending champion Archbishop Mitty took some heavy blows from challenger La Salle before taking care of matters in the latter rounds or, in this case, sets.

Sparked by the clutch hitting and digging of MVP Clare Powers, the setting of Kelsey Crawford and big blocks by Natasha Kosowicz, the Monarchs pulled out an exhausting five-set volleyball victory over La Salle in the final of the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions on Saturday night at JR Richards Gym.

Mitty rallied from a 2-1 deficit in sets and prevailed, 24-26, 25-16, 21-25, 25-13, 15-9. It was the Monarchs second straight title and fourth in six years.


La Salle really made them earn this one.

?They?re fiery,? Mitty coach Bret Almazan-Cezar said of the Lancers, the top-ranked team in the CIF-SS 1-A Division. ?They compete unbelievably well.?

Buoyed by a vocal group of parents, La Salle came out firing and had Mitty flustered. It built a 13-5 lead in the first set, taking advantage of Mitty errors and scoring off big hits from Caroline Knop, Haley DeSales and Cheri Raymundo.

But Mitty is a program that knows how to win, and it worked its way back into the set and pulled even at 22-all on a kill by the 6-3 Powers. La Salle made some big plays down the stretch to fight off the comeback and won the set on a service error.

A block by 6-4 middle Alexa Dryer broke open a close second set, giving Mitty an 18-14 lead.

The hitting of Desales and Raymundo helped La Salle win the third set and take a 2-1 advantage.

Mitty stepped up its play at the net and took control of the final two sets. The blocking of Brittany Latigue, Kosowicz and Dryer slowed La Salle?s fast-paced attack and sparked the Monarchs to another tournament title.

In other action, Valley Christian rebounded from its semifinal loss to league rival Mitty and outlasted Mira Costa in five sets for third place.

Santa Barbara won a five-set match over Campolindo early Saturay before falling to Newport Harbor in the consolation final in three sets.

San Marcos came out on the short end of two five-set matches to finish in 12th place. The Royals fell to Newport Harbor and Campolindo.

Dos Pueblos broke into the tournament win column with a three-set win over Esperanza in the 15th-place match.