LEXINGTON— More than 500 Andrew Jackson fans traveled an hour and a half Saturday to watch Bishop England put on a 49-minute volleyball clinic that included, spikes, kills, dinks, digs and another state championship.
Andrew Jackson brought three times as many fans as Bishop England did, but was outmanned on the court. The Bishops needed less than an hour to claim their 14th straight state title and a national record 24th overall as they breezed past the Volunteers 25-11, 25-14, 25-13.
It was another impressive effort by a team that is a living dynasty. The Bishops were never really threatened once the Class AA playoffs began. Only one team, Academic Magnet, scored more than 15 points in a set against the reigning champs.
“Bishop England is a great volleyball team,” Andrew Jackson coach John Verdugo said after his team closed the season with a 20-4 record. “They play very well, and it’s hard to keep up with their speed. We don’t have a lot of opportunities to face a team like this. Hopefully, we’ll learn from it, get better and play them again next year.”
The Bishops proved to be the best thanks to a balanced effort, great defense and the will to work hard.
“It’s not easy,” Bishop England coach Cindy Baggott said. “People might think it’s easy, but it’s not. These girls work hard. It begins in the weight room, and we practice every time we are allowed. It goes back to how hard these girls work.”
Seven seniors played in their final match, including Mary Harriet Moore and Sarah Santos.
The Volunteers had no answer for Moore, who was mighty at the net with thunderous kills and spikes.
“She’s a great player,” Verdugo said. “That’s all I can say about her. She’s great.”
Santos, one of the team’s skilled defensive specialists, called Saturday’s effort awesome.
“We played our hearts out today,” she said. “It was a big game for the seniors. It was a great way to go out. I’m so sad it’s over. It was a great way to end my career, but it hurts that it’s over.”
Baggott said her team didn’t know that much about the Volunteers but were able to adjust quickly to their style of play.
“I told the girls we had to focus on what we did. It doesn’t matter who is on the other side of the net. You have to be focused and ready to play.”
The Bishops concluded the season with a 38-7 record. Baggott doesn’t like to compare one team to another, but she praised this year’s squad for its balance.
“Being true to the Bishop England tradition, we were strong on defense,” she said. “Give Andrew Jackson credit; they were scrappy and put up a good fight.”
But like a title fighter, the Bishops absorbed their foe’s best punch and collected another title.