Shadow Hills celebrate a point won in the third game against Desert Hot Springs at the De Anza League finals on Wednesday, November 5, 2014 in Indio. Shadow Hills won three games to zero.
There’s a triple-crown winner in Indio and it now resides at Shadow Hills High School.
The Knights’ volleyball team captured another title Wednesday night, winning the De Anza League championship for the third consecutive season. Shadow Hills beat Desert Hot Springs, 25-16, 25-15, 25-16 to finish atop the league standings at 11-1.
However, there was one more aspect needed to complete their reign over league rivals and that would be winning the title outright. And after Desert Mirage topped Big Bear in five games, it snapped a tie for a possible share of the banner and the Knights now stand alone with the outright title.
The Knights reign again and when the team had wrapped up their victory, they headed over to Lamppost Pizza in La Quinta for a feast. In the middle of the celebration, they erupted in cheers when they learned that Big Bear finished 10-2.
“We were all so zoned in tonight,” said junior Bethany Castillo, who sparked the Knights with 10 kills and four aces. “We were just so mentally focused. We knew from our loss last week at Big Bear that we were going to play at 110 percent from here on out and that’s what we did.”
Senior Karla Torres, who was another key part of a dominating serving night added that it was all about momentum.
“We kept our momentum the whole time,” said Torres, who finished with eight kills and six aces. “We had fun and came right out to win. Now to have that title again, it’s a such a relief because everyone was out to get us. Now, we have it again.”
And what a reign it’s been for Shadow Hills.
“We started out from the nitty gritty, been to CIF now four times in four years, finished undefeated twice and won league three years in a row,” said coach Melissa Walker, whose team is 20-2 overall. “What other school can say they had a start like that?”
And from start to finish it was all Shadow Hills in the regular season finale, a total turnaround from the last time these two met when the Knights pulled out a 25-18, 25-20, 19-25, 23-25, 15-13 victory.
Shay Mesa (eight aces) got the team rolling on serve. Then Thalia Cantu chipped in as Shadow Hills rolled out to a 9-2 lead. Desert Hot Springs was able to cut it with some solid play across the floor from Prai Harris, net play from Jamie Barnes and Briana Fonseca, along with a strong middle block from Chrishayla Jackson. The Golden Eagles got to within three points on Fonseca’s serve, but before long Castillo was on serve, Abby Manriquez chipped in a couple of points and Shadow Hills quickly pulled away.
The Golden Eagles took an early lead in Game 2, but the Knights knotted it three times before taking a lead for good at 13-12 when Torres dropped a ball over the top of the net. She then pounded out back to back aces and the Knights pushed on.
“We missed a lot of serves the last time we played them,” said Walker. “We focused on that yesterday at practice and it paid off. They were just zoned in and picked out a girl and served right to her. We were gonna do whatever it takes.”
It swung back and forth early in Game 3 with DHS taking a lead at 7-6, but when freshman Trinity Castaneda (five aces) fired up an ace to snap the 9-all deadlock, it was all Knights from there. Evelyn Lopez finished with 20 assists and 12 digs while Avi Ortiz contributed 16 digs.
Despite the loss, Desert Hot Springs finishes at 7-5 with a chance of earning a CIF bid behind Shadow Hills, Big Bear and Desert Mirage.
Coach Nicki Tiedeman expressed that the Golden Eagles are a better team than what was displayed Wednesday.
“We just got totally psyched out in this environment,” she said. “Nothing went right. The last time we went to five games with them and tonight, it fell apart.”
Fonseca had 10 kills, nine digs, and two serving aces for the Golden Eagles. Jackson had four kills and Harris had 11 digs.