Although last Saturday at Marietta High, the St. Pius Lady Golden Lions accomplished this task with a 3-1 victory over Blessed Trinity for the Class AAA volleyball state title, which was their first in school history.
“I’m just so proud of them,” St. Pius coach John Frederick said. They played the game plan to a T. Both regular season games were dog fights to the end and we knew we were in for a fight today.”
Outside hitter Leah Hardeman set a school record with 35 kills and fellow senior setter Katrina Connolly had 37 assists for St. Pius, which lost to Blessed Trinity in the state finals a year ago.
“I’m the type of person who always wants to make history and I love that even though I’m leaving the school I made something different happen,” Hardeman said. “Being the first team ever to win state means so much to me.”
“We’ve been hanging banners for a while that said ‘runner up’ and we said we were sick of seeing that go up,” said Frederick, whose team also lost in the 2011 championship game.
Unlike their last two trips to the finals, things started well for the Lady Golden Lions when they won the first set 25-21, which was capped on a kill by Hardeman.
“The first three times we were in the finals we hadn’t even won a game in the finals so after that first game they sort of calmed down and just executed,” Frederick said.
Then after falling behind 3-0 in the second game, St. Pius scored the next five points and remained ahead for a 25-22 win, which was also punctuated on a kill by Hardeman.
After Blessed Trinity avoided being swept with a victory in the third game, Hardeman made 10 kills, including the final point of the 25-18 victory to begin the celebration.
I think Leah is the best player in the state regardless of classification,” Frederick said. “She just took over and willed us to a win.”