ALBUQUERQUE — Goddard had the defending champions on the ropes, not only did they come out to play, but they shut down St. Pius X. The Sartans could do nothing right the first two sets. Suddenly in the third set St. Pius X looked like the team everyone has come to fear. St Pius X hit the gas and never looked back taking Goddard in five set: 25-18, 25-23, 11-25, 21-25, 8-15.
“I can’t give her enough respect,” Sartans coach Jordan Russell said. “We played them earlier in the year and beat them in three at the Rio Rancho tournament. She’s (Hager) done a phenomenal job. We were down 2-0 and they make a huge run on us. Props to her and her team. They have a long road ahead of them as far their future in this sport.”
Morale victories do no good for a group of seniors leaving the program, but Lady Rocket coach Kristi Hager has closed the gap. In last season’s championship game, St. Pius X shut Goddard out in three sets. In this year’s game, Goddard pushed and pushed and pushed some more as both teams had their fans dueling chants in the stands. Each team’s fans had their side of the court rocking and encouraging their teams. It was so raucous that St. Pius X fans resorted to booing an official because of a call that went against them
Where the Lady Rockets lost the game was when they could not match Sartans energy or points in the third period. St. Pius X jumped out to a big lead,14-4 and Goddard could never recover as they dropped the third set 25-11. Goddard could not get it going in the fourth set and had to play from behind after first two sets. The Sartans made an adjustment mixing in a dink shot as well as their power kills.
“This suck,” Hager said. “Third set we let up, and we were never in it in the fourth set. You never want to lose your last game of the season and that’s not how we envisioned ending our season. These girls fought hard and I told my team I’m proud of them unfortunately our season’s over with.”