Green Hope High School went on the road, in a hostile environment and did what they’ve done consistently for the last three seasons - win.
The Falcons are going back to the NCHSAA 4A volleyball title game for a third consecutive year after a 3-1 (25-18, 25-16, 18-25, 25-20) win over Cardinal Gibbons. The Crusaders finish the season 24-4 overall, but provided little resistance to Green Hope (27-1) who have not lost a match since August 18.
That’s not entirely true. Gibbons did take the third set to avoid the sweep, the first time the Falcons didn’t sweep an opponent since Oct. 18 against Jordan High School. Green Hope has sweep their competition in 15 of their last 16 games. The Falcons have 20 sweeps this season. The Crusaders putting a dent in the Green Hope armour might have served as a wake up call.
“We didn’t battle early enough and I think we battled right from the start in the fourth set,” Falcons’ co-captain Erin McIndoe said. “That’s what made the difference. We knew that we kind of let it go in the third (set) and we knew that we wanted to make a statement.”
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The Falcons dominated the first two sets, but Cardinal Gibbons was able to get off to a solid start in the third to pull off the win. The Crusaders jumped out to a 5-3 lead in the fourth set, but once Green Hope battled back to tie the set (5-5) before eventually taking the lead, their experience was too much for Cardinal Gibbons to overcome.
“You can tell that everybody was kind of calm,” Falcons’ head coach Karl Redelfs said. “We’ve been down before and it’s not really an issue.”
The packed gym didn’t make it easy for Green Hope, but they rarely looked rattled.
“Coming in and beating them in their place shows how much fight we have and how hard we’ve worked the entire season,” McIndoe said. “I think that’s what happens when you work that hard all season. You can come here and do incredible things.”
Green Hope will take on conference rival Panther Creek on Saturday at noon for the state championship. The contest will be held at Reynolds Coliseum. The Catamounts and Falcons are in the same conference, but Panther Creek played in the west in the 2018 playoffs. Green Hope swept the Catamounts in the regular season.