SHAlleyball Takes State

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Dave Arnold

Your 2016 KHSAA State Volleyball Champions!

Claire Ely, Sports Editor

The Sacred Heart Academy Valkyries defeated the Henry Clay Blue Devils 3-1 in the 2016 KHSAA Volleyball State Championship match on Sunday afternoon.

SHA and Henry Clay had previously faced each other on SHA’s senior night; a match that went 4 sets. So the Valkyries, ranked most of the season at No. 1 in the state and nationally on the top 10, knew this game would be a battle.

Senior defensive specialist, Emily Azzara, said, “We all felt some nerves. Our coaches kept telling us, ‘If you don’t feel nervous before the state championship finals, you aren’t a person.’  Staying confident in each other and our one goal, was the ultimate key to success.”

The Valkyries won the first two sets fairly easily. Winning set one 25-19 and set two 25-13.

Henry Clay fought back, winning set three 25-19.

Going into the fourth game, SHA knew they had to increase the intensity. Lauryn Bennett, a senior outside hitter and Emory commit, said,”Going into the fourth set, I knew we would have to fight for every point since Henry Clay was not going to let up and give us the game.”

In a very well-fought battle, the Valkyries won set four 25-19 winning the state championship for second time in SHA volleyball history and the first time since 2003.

Senior captain and Xavier commit, Nadia Dieudonne, was named first team all region and state. Her job as a setter was pivotal for SHA’s success.

“My job, as a setter, is to make my hitters looks good,” said Dieudonne. “To be able to do that job well requires being able to perform under pressure and having confidence in myself and my teammates.”

Bennett was named the Midway University/KHSAA Female Student Athlete of the Year, and senior Florida commit, Paige Hammons, was awarded MVP of the state tournament.  Hammons was also named Miss Kentucky Volleyball, the first Miss Volleyball in Sacred Heart history.

Hammons said, “I am so excited, I have always wanted to leave my mark on Sacred Heart somehow and now I will have two banners. It feels really great to be rewarded for your hard work and a state championship is a great way to end my career at Sacred Heart.”