MUNCIE — Nia Robinson had been crying all week long. The All-American knew her high school career was coming to a close. But while she couldn’t stop the calendar from turning, she could make her last time donning a Cathedral uniform as memorable as possible.
She certainly did that.
Robinson led Cathedral to its second consecutive state title Saturday with a 3-1 win over top-ranked Crown Point. The Northwestern recruit finished with a game-high 27 kills. She set the program record for career kills (1,334) in the process. The record was owned by Tamika Johnson, who had 1,330.
Robinson also won the IHSAA Class 4A mental attitude award.
“It’s a really sad day to realize it’s over, but what better way to go out than with a win?” Robinson said.
While the win Saturday stands on its own, it might not have been possible had Cathedral not been playing for a state title for a third consecutive season. The seniors knew what to expect and weren’t intimidated by the glitz and glamour.
“Getting to state last year and knowing what to do, knowing what the lights are like, knowing about the fans helped a ton,” Robinson said. “Not all of the seniors played last year, but they got to experience it all. The first time here, it’s so different. The only way you can prepare for it is to actually be here.”
It wasn’t just Robinson who contributed to the win. Mattison Norris had 17 kills, Emily Kleck had 13 and Maria Schorr had 57 assists.
“I’m so happy that I was able to share this with my sisters out there,” Schorr said. “The grit we played with in semistate and today was amazing. I’m so proud of everything we accomplished.”
Cathedral took the first set 25-21, as Robinson tallied six kills, Norris had four and Schorr had 15 assists.
Crown Point got within one point, trailing 19-18, but Cathedral took the next four points and held on for the win.
The Irish faced a bit of adversity in the second set as Crown Point took a 12-6 lead. But an 8-2 Cathedral run fueled by four kills and some Bulldogs miscues tied the set at 14. Cathedral took its first lead at 20-19 and won 25-21 to take a commanding 2-0 lead.
Crown Point got its lone win in the must-win third set, grabbing a 9-3 lead thanks to four kills from Morgan Chacon. While a 7-1 Cathedral run fueled by kills from Norris and Kleck tied the match at 10, Crown Point regained its composure and held on for a 25-20 win.
Robinson took control of the fourth set. She had five kills in Cathedral’s first 13 points as the Irish jumped out to a six-point lead. Crown Point used an 11-3 run to cut the deficit to 17-16, but Norris’ season-high 17th kill gave Cathedral a bit of breathing room at 19-16 and the Irish held on.
Then, for the eighth time in program history, the party could start.
“Does Christmas ever get old? You’re so excited,” Cathedral coach Jean Kesterson said of the win. “You anticipate it all season long. When it happens, it’s like, ‘Thank you Santa, Thank you God.’ ”
As for Kesterson, she crossed an item off her bucket list, as the program won consecutive state titles for the first time. So, what’s next on the list? She says she’ll think about it. But for now, she’ll relish another milestone.
“I’m going to enjoy this, savor it,” she said. “I’ve been very blessed to coach these kids here and enjoy the emotion at the very end. It’s more than the score, it’s more than the game.”