WINDSOR — After a nearly 100-day journey filled with trials, tribulations, joy and heartache, mission accomplished.
The King girls volleyball team captured its sixth consecutive New England Prep School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) Championship and first Class B title Sunday as the Vikings swept Kingswood-Oxford, 25-14, 25-21, 25-15 in the final played at historic Erickson Gym at Loomis Chaffee School.
“This match really showed how well we work together. All the hours of work we put into the process all season prepared us for these three sets today,” said King’s Norah Shattan. “And now we have this plaque to put into the trophy case. And we have our banner to display on the wall in our gym.”
Those walls of the King gymnasium are very crowded with NEPSAC girls volleyball title banners. Six straight trips to the final. Six NEPSAC Championship plaques for the most joyous bus rides home.
Quite a tradition to live up to. A wonderful legacy to be a part of.
“It was so exciting. Everybody brought their best today,” said King senior co-captain Ruby Bienen. “A special match for the seniors. An ending to a season that means so much. We kept our cool. I’m happy we got it done.”
King (19-3 overall) had faced Kingswood-Oxford back on October 5 at the Wyverns gym and escaped with a 3-2 victory.
The Vikings were not interested in going through drama Sunday.
“Having faced them before, we had an idea of what Kingswood-Oxford could do,” said King sophomore hitter Nicole Salantay. “We came here with the idea to play our game with great energy and excitement. We kept the pressure on them every moment. We didn’t want to let them into the contest. We slammed the door shut and gave them our best effort.”
Kingswood-Oxford (15-5 overall) played like a team that last won a NEPSAC title in 2007, lost to King in the 2008 NEPSAC Championship final and were eliminated in the NEPSAC quarterfinals the last two seasons.
In Game 1, King had a 5-1 run for 13-8 and a 6-0 surge for 21-12 before a 25-14 closeout. Salantay had seven of her 13 service points in the game.
In Game 2, Kingswood-Oxford led 10-9 when King scored six straight points to stay ahead for good. King won 25-21 for a 2-0 edge.
In Game 3, the inevitability of a sweep hung over the gym. With Salantay serving King jumped out 8-1. The Vikings led 11-2, 13-4 and 16-10 before a 5-1 surge made it 21-11. The 25-15 closeout and grand celebration followed.
King’s versatility and depth of hitters was too much for Kingswood-Oxford, which funnelled its entire offense through junior hitter Sydney Smith.
“King was solid all season and deserving of the No. 1 seed,” said Kingswood-Oxford coach Scott McDonald. “Their offense was strong. Dealing with their outside hitters (Salantay, Bienen, Shattan) was a struggle for us. King lived up to our expectations.”
It was redemption of sorts after Hopkins beat King in the Fairchester Athletic Association final last week.
“That’s the best part of all this for me. To see the group finish on a high note,” said King’s veteran coach Tung Tran. “And I’m so glad to see the seniors (co-captains Bienen, Catherine King; reserves Erica Cunningham, Jacquelyn Banford) get their championship.”
“We know all streaks eventually come to an end,” King’s Salantay said. “Our focus was ‘Let’s win this match and this title for us. Let’s write our own story.’ ”