Valley Christian volleyball

Valley Christian's volleyball program captured the 3A Conference state championship Saturday against Snowflake at Veteran's Memorial Coliseum.

Coach Lindy Ramsland and her Valley Christian volleyball team know all too well what it feels like to make a run to the state championship and fall short. It’s happened two years in a row for the Trojans.

Entering Saturday’s 3A title match as the No. 2 seed against top-ranked Snowflake – a team that beat Valley Christian back in October – Ramsland and the two seniors on the roster were determined to not feel the same heartbreak for a third year in a row. And while it was rough during the first half of all three sets, the Trojans prevailed.

Valley Christian swept Snowflake in three sets – 25-21, 25-21 and 25-21 – to win the 3A Conference state championship at Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum.

“We were the better team this year, I knew it was our year,” Ramsland said. “We knew it would come down to the mental game. It’s been a hard season. It feels so good after so many years being so close to finally win it.”

Snowflake entered the title game riding a 14-game win streak in which the Lobos surrendered only five total sets. Their athleticism at the net shined early on in every set, as they often were able to jump out to small leads over the Trojans, forcing them to rally from behind.

But Valley Christian answered the call.

Near the midway point of every set a switch flipped for the Trojans. Strong play at the net with key blocks from junior Kate Phillips, who had a team-high three, helped will them back into every set and make runs that forced Snowflake to play from behind. In each instance, the deficit was too much to overcome as Valley Christian ran away with each set win.

Senior Cara Braun had a team-high 15 kills in the match. Junior Korah Nordin had 12 kills and Phillips added nine more for the Trojans. Braun also had the game-winning ace.

“I think this team is a lot different from the other two years,” Braun said. “Not with talent or skill but in our ability to go against the momentum from the other team. We have an ability to flip a switch. That was the difference this year.”

Braun was overcome with emotion as she fell to the floor after her ace to win the trophy, and again when she gathered with her team to hoist it. She is one of two seniors on the team alongside Kylie Wong, who played libero for the Trojans.

Together, the two were determined not to feel the same heartbreak they felt the last two seasons. Wong led the team with 20 digs against Snowflake. Nordin added 11 and Braun 10.

“I’ve never cried like that in my life,” Braun said. “It was the sweetest, most emotional feeling having a big group hug with my team. My family was here and the people who have supported me my whole career … I’m crying again. It’s such an amazing feeling.”

Throughout the match Ramsland would routinely pump up her team in huddles during timeouts. The team is one big family, an extended one from what she and one of her assistants have at home with newborns.

The championship makes the countless hours she spent away from her child worth it. Especially when it involves overcoming two straight championship losses.

“I’ve coached a lot of these girls for 4 years, sometimes more with club,” Ramsland said. “We have a really close-knit community, and they are all really good kids. I tell them my job is to motivate them and if that makes me look like a psychopath then so be it.

“I’m so proud of them. This is such a good group of girls.”

Have an interesting story? Contact Zach Alvira at (480)898-5630 or zalvira@timespublications.com. Follow him on Twitter @ZachAlvira

 

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