Go to the "OCVarsity Hot Shots: Championship Saturday" slide show to see all of the photos from this match.
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Connelly battles, comes up short against Hemet
CYPRESS – It was quite a run through the CIF-SS Division 4A girls volleyball playoffs for the Connelly Koalas.
Connelly, which finished third in the San Joaquin League, had defeated the eighth, second and sixth-seeded teams to advance to Saturday's final against top-seeded Hemet.
However, Hemet (23-6) proved to be too much for Connelly (15-14), winning 25-11, 25-6, 21-25, 15-11 at Cypress College.
"The girls fought all year," Connelly coach Garry Currier said. "Taking third in the San Joaquin League and then taking on the seeded teams to get here to the finals is a testament.
"I walk into the gym and I see 16 girls that want to play at Connelly and they're all on varsity."
The title was the second consecutive for Hemet. This was the fifth finals appearance for Connelly in six years. All of Connelly's titles and finals appearances came in either Division 5AA or 5A.
To get to the finals in their second year in 4A is an impressive point for the Koalas.
"I gave them a quote," Currier said. "Connelly Volleyball is sisterhood ... Being a small catholic school and these girls seeing each other every day, they're sisters on and off the court.
"They had to battle for every single point. Whether you were on the bench or you were playing on the court, every single point mattered. Every girl on the bench had a part on this team."
The Koalas displayed that fight and tenacity in the third game. After losing the first two games, Connelly was determined not to be swept.
Hemet jumped out to a 6-2 lead, but Connelly rallied to with six consecutive points for an 8-6 lead. Later, Hemet led 12-9, but Connelly rallied back, taking a 14-13 lead on a kill from Nicole Yost.
Connelly would increase its lead to 23-18 and later Belinda Mullally closed the game with a kill.
Hemet regained control of the match in the fourth game. Hemet scored seven consecutive points to take an 11-4 lead and never allowed Connelly an opportunity to get close.
The Koalas likely will earn a berth in the CIF State playoffs that begin Tuesday. The pairings will be released Sunday.