COLUMBIA - Oceanside Collegiate was on the brink of history Saturday afternoon but when it came down to taking out nine-time volleyball state champion St. Joseph’s, the Landsharks came up a little short in the Class AA state championship.
St. Joseph’s dominated the fifth and decisive set to claim its ninth straight state championship by a 3-2 margin. The scores were 25-15, 17-25, 25-16, 18-25, 15-4, denying Oceanside Collegiate in the finals for the second straight year.
A year ago, the Knights swept Oceanside Collegate in the finals. The nine straight state championships is the second longest streak in state history, only trailing Bishop England, who won from 2000-2017.
“I want to congratulate St. Joseph’s for winning,” Oceanside Collegiate coach Amir Khaledi said. “We gave all we had. Obviously, we could have won but the fifth set they were really focused and some of their girls have been there. That is all it was.”
“I’m so excited and proud of our team on how far we have come. I’m looking forward to next year. We will miss all our seniors and their leadership, but Oceanside is around to stay. We’ll do much better next year.”
The way things started out, it looked like it might be another runaway championship for St. Joseph's (30-18-1). They jumped to an early lead and cruised to the 10-point win in the first set. But Oceanside wasn’t going to go away quietly.
Behind the play of Leah Schilpp, Jordan Bartemeyer and Piper Johnson, Oceanside Collegiate (38-7-1) rallied to win two of the next three sets. But once the fifth set began, St. Joseph’s regained its composure and scored the first five points of the decisive set.
“Everybody was nervous, and we were a little more nervous in the first set,” Khaledi said. “It showed in the result. After that we got our groove back and stayed in the match.”
St. Joseph’s used the serving of Maggie Patterson to score the first five points of the final set. It never got closer than three the rest of the way.
“Really, this is the first time in the nine years that we’ve been tested (in the finals),” St. Joseph’s coach Jan Carino said. “I don’t want to say it’s more special than the others because every one is special but when you have to fight that hard to win, it just makes it a little more special maybe.”
Khaledi had to gather his team before they left the court and let them know even though they came up short, he was proud of the effort they displayed trying to knock off the defending champions.
“I’m so proud of them. We did everything we could do but that fifth set, St. Joe’s, for one set, they were better than we were,” Khaledi said. “But we fought and I couldn’t be more proud.”