SARASOTA — Bishop McLaughlin broke through its mental block.
The Hurricanes beat Cardinal Mooney Catholic 25-15, 21-25, 25-12, 25-19 in the Class 3A championship Saturday to earn a trip to the state semifinals. The win came after losing consecutive matches at Cardinal Mooney — in last year’s region semifinals and in September.
“We thought maybe this place was impossible to win at, but we definitely broke through that mentality,” Hurricanes senior Audrey Koenig said. “They’re always like the biggest competitor. We’ve been saying leading up to this match whoever wins this has a great shot at states because Cardinal Mooney won last year, and our region is a really tough region.”
The Hurricanes (24-2) struggled with their passing in the second set Saturday, and Cardinal Mooney (19-9) scored eight of the final 12 points. They bounced back with a dominant third set and scored seven of the last eight points in the fourth to end the match.
Koenig contributed 20 kills and three aces, sophomore Maddie Snider 19 kills and five blocks and freshman Naomi Chinchar 40 assists and four digs.
The Hurricanes were swept by Cardinal Mooney, the defending state champion, earlier this season without outside hitter Aliyah Waldon because of an injury. Hurricanes coach Doug Chinchar praised Waldon’s athleticism and passing, something they missed back then.
“We pass and serve more than anybody I know,” he said. “We’re old school.”
The Hurricanes host Ocala Trinity Catholic (16-6), which lost to Bishop McLaughlin last season, next Saturday at 2 p.m. This will be the Hurricanes' second state tournament appearance in three seasons.
After eliminating Cardinal Mooney, the Hurricanes have won 12 consecutive matches. Chinchar believes the win streak is a sign of their improvement over the season.
“We’ve just been getting better as the year has gone on,” he said. "We’ve played all the big boys. We beat Lyman, beat Plant, beat Berkeley (Prep), beat them all.
“That was to get ready for this one. We knew early on that on Oct. 31 we’d be here against Cardinal Mooney. We’ve been preparing for that.”
Region volleyball finals
2A: Naples First Baptist 3, Tampa Bay HEAT 0
3A: Bishop McLaughlin 3, Sarasota Cardinal Mooney 1
4A: Holy Names 3, Weeki Wachee 0
5A: Ocala Vanguard 3, Fivay 0
5A: Robinson 3, Port Charlotte 1
6A: Fort Myers 3, Hillsborough 0
6A: St. Petersburg 3, Ocala Forest 1
7A: Plant 3, Vero Beach 1