Santa Margarita knocks off Mater Dei, goes unbeaten in Trinity League


SANTA ANA - It was the perfect way to end the regular season for the top-ranked Santa Margarita girls volleyball team.

The Eagles, led by Meghan McClure’s 26 kills, capped a perfect Trinity League season by defeating second-ranked Mater Dei, 25-19, 25-18, 24-26, 25-19, on Thursday night to clinch the outright Trinity League title.

“It was incredibly special. I’ve never beat Mater Dei twice in a season (in league),” McClure said. “I wanted to be sole league champs, our whole team did. We came in with a goal to win and it was so much fun.

“It was the best game we’ve played all season. After the third game, we took a deep breath ... We knew they were going to come out strong and we didn’t want to give them any air to breathe.”

This was actually the third time the Eagles  (31-4, 8-0) have beaten Mater Dei this season. Santa Margarita swept Mater Dei (29-5, 5-2) in the first league match on Sept. 28, and the Eagles defeated the Monarchs in the finals of the California Challenge on Oct. 8.

The Eagles dropped just one set during the first two meetings, and the appeared on their way to another sweep after opening the match with a strong effort.

The momentum started to swing in the third set as the Monarchs found success going to middle blocker Kyla Waiters, who connected on six of her 10 kills.

“She came up big for them, at big momentum times,” Santa Margarita coach Katy Daly said of Waiters. “We were kind of caught on our heels.”

The Eagles regrouped, fought off an early deficit in the fourth set and took the lead for good on a kill from McClure.

Sarah Ciszek had 12 kills for the Eagles. Julianna Reisinger had 22 digs and Devon Chang had 58 assists.

“My seniors came up big with their leadership," Daly said. "The games (losses) last year against Huntington Beach (CIF playoffs) and Mater Dei (in league), the feeling stuck with them, and I think they’re working harder to prevent that. I’m proud of them, they showed their maturity tonight.”

Shannon Scully led the Monarchs with 18 kills. Natalie Berty and Waiters had 13 and 10, respectively.

“They served a lot tougher than we did,” Mater Dei coach Dan O’Dell said. “They passed better than we did and for a team that digs the ball so well, they can make life tough. They did a great job of getting us out of system.”

Mater Dei concludes the regular season Tuesday against Orange Lutheran.

Santa Margarita and Mater Dei are ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in CIF-SS Division 1.

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