After advancing further than any Mission Prep girls volleyball team before it, the Royals finally met their match in a 25-19, 26-24, 26-24 loss to Tri-City Christian of Vista in the CIF-Southern California Division V championship match.
“I was so proud of (my team),” Royals coach Michelle Lakey said. “It’s not often you have a team this special.”
Playing a Tri-City Christian team that had steamrolled through the regional playoffs, winning sets by scores such as 25-3 and 25-8 over sectional champions, Mission Prep managed to stay close throughout the match.
“It was just back and forth the whole time,” Lakey said. “This is a lot more competitive than what we’re used to playing at. They proved that they can play against anybody.
“In one of the sets we made two errors and we lost by two points. (The team) showed they can win at this level — and eventually they will.”
Playing in her final high school match, senior Danielle Brescia had team-highs in kills (10) and blocks (9).
Lakey said that Brescia has set an example that she hopes her team will follow into the future.
“She’s meant so much to us,” Lakey said. “She set a standard. She showed all the girls that you can play any position you want to and get good at it.”
Junior Andrea Fernandez added six kills, nine digs and two aces for the Royals (27-7), who will lose just two seniors from a relatively young team.
Lakey said she was pleased with the play of junior setter Deirdre Laird, who contributed 30 assists and six digs.
“She was running all over the court putting up good sets and making good plays that allowed us to set everyone to throw off their defense,” Lakey said.
Trailing 24-16 in the final game, the Royals desperately rallied for eight straight points to tie the set at 24 before Tri-City Christian (25-14) could close it out.
“(Our team) is young but they gelled,” Lakey said. “They understand their strengths and weaknesses and help each other out. It’s an amazing team that was always very comfortable with positive attitudes. I’m very proud of them.”