There could only be redemption for one team.
Central Valley Christian and Redwood were each turned away in their quest to win a Central Section Division III volleyball championship in 2012.
But with both teams returning the majority of their players, they were the prohibitive favorites to face off for the Division III title in 2013.
Both CVC and Redwood took care of business in the early playoff rounds, beating their respective opposition in straight sets through the entire postseason to set up an all-Visalia final.
In the end, only one team could stand above the other and complete its road to redemption.
No. 1 CVC defeated No. 2 Redwood 25-17, 30-32, 25-14, 25-16 in front of a standing-room only crowd on Thursday night at the CVC gym.
“We wanted this so bad,” CVC senior Taylor Van Den Berg said. “We wanted our revenge. We are just so happy that we made it this far. We were really disappointed at what happened last year. We were like, ‘Guys, we can’t let this happen again.’ This was our goal, to get to Valley and win.”
Senior Tess Van Grouw echoed Van Den Berg’s comments.
“We wanted this really bad,” she said. “We wanted to go all out and make a point, make a statement. The way we worked this year, we played well as a team and it was a lot of fun to pull it out.”
The Cavaliers (34-4) are no strangers to Central Section championships, but this was their first in Division III.
Redwood (28-6) was trying to win a Valley title for the first time since 2006.
“I thought we fought very hard,” Redwood coach Alana Montgomery said. “We made some errors that cost us, but I think the girls gave everything they had. Having said that, CVC is a strong, confident, athletic and well-rounded varsity team.”
The Rangers did something not a lot of teams could do against the Cavaliers — win a set.
The two teams stood toe-to-toe in the second set, exchanging points with Redwood pulling out a 32-30 win.
“That was a lot of fun,” CVC coach Meghan Warkentin said. “It was maybe too exciting for my liking, but was good for us. It really tested us.”
Just when it looked like CVC and Redwood were perhaps going to be locked in a long volleyball match, the Cavaliers took over.
CVC jumped all over Redwood, winning the third set 25-14, and they finished things off 25-16 in the fourth set.
“I think that shows that this is a resilient group,” Warkentin said. “They wanted this and they were willing to work for it.”
The highlight for Redwood was the second set. The fans were into the match all night, but once the second set was tied 25-25, the packed house exploded after every point.
“I love all the yelling and screaming,” Montgomery said. “I love when all these kids come in here and both sides are duking it out. I love the spirit at this school. It was a good night for both teams. I wish we could have just played a little bit sharper, but maybe that’s because CVC is so good.”
The Cavaliers are definitely as good as advertised.
Warkentin says she has 14 solid players on her squad, and she means it when she says it.
They have some impressive hitters in Van Den Berg and Lindsey Calvin, who finished with 18 kills each. Veronica Nederend was also impressive with 16 kills and 15 digs, and Hailey Hilvers chipped in with six kills.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg for the Cavaliers. Sky Griffin did another amazing job of setting up those hitters with 34 assists, and Van Grouw got the CVC offense started with 34 digs. Griffin also had 17 digs.
Redwood was led by Ashley Cervantes with 11 kills and 24 digs, Ciara Wong had 31 assists, Rebekah Cervantes had 11 kills and nine digs, and Chandler McKean had eight kills.
“It is nice to be a well-rounded team,” Warkentin said. “You named the big hitters, and they’re amazing, but we also have amazing defenders and setters. The whole group. All 14 are solid volleyball players and they all have confidence in each other.”
The season is far from over for the Cavaliers. They will advance to the Southern California Regional Division III postseason for the first time.
“We’re excited about it,” Warkentin said. “We don’t know what to expect. We’re new to the Division III playoffs. This is uncharted territory, but we’re really excited and we’ll take it one match at a time.”
The Rangers will also likely get a bid into the Southern California Regionals.
“It will be good experience for the younger girls and we have one more game to go for those that are graduating,” Montgomery said. “They have one more shot to maybe play just a little bit better because I think we can play better.”