RALEIGH — The Cardinal Gibbons volleyball team put on a dominating performance against D.H. Conley in the NCHSAA 3A Eastern finals Tuesday.
The three-time defending state champion Crusaders cruised to a sweep of the Vikings, winning 25-13, 25-7 and 25-11. Gibbons (20-2) has participated in either the Independent or public school championship match since 1998, winning all but two state titles during that span.
Senior Haleigh Nelson led the Crusaders with 24 kills, including five blocks, as Gibbons finished off Conley (27-4), the Coastal Conference champs, in less than an hour.
“There was lots of emotion because this was our last game for the seniors in our home gym,” said Nelson, 6-foot-3, who will play for Wisconsin next year. “Our No. 1 goal has been to get to the state championships and everyone on this team is on the same page.”
Gibbons led nearly the entire way, trailing just once, at the beginning of the third game, as the front line overwhelmed the shorter Vikings.
Freshman Briley Brind’Amour posted nine kills and junior Amy Robertson added five, while Conley simply had no answer for Nelson all match.
Mia Fradenburg and Meghan Wilkinson also contributed to the Crusaders’ cause with their serving, Cheyenne Wood made key digs and libero Bianca Gartner kept the team running smoothly.
“The last four matches we have been playing our best volleyball of the year,” said Gibbons coach Logan Barber. “The kids are really focusing on the details and exploiting the other teams’ weaknesses.”
Gibbons has not had a poor outing since it was edged in a five-game match against Carolina Conference rival Chapel Hill in the regular-season finale. The Crusaders swept the Tigers the night after to claim the conference tiebreaker, and then did it again in the fourth round of the playoffs.
“After the loss to Chapel Hill we refocused ourselves,” said junior Erin Quinn. “We weren’t going to go backwards again, just forward towards our goal.”
Gibbons will play the winner of Jesse Carson or Enka on Saturday at N.C. State’s Reynolds Coliseum.