FORT MYERS | Trinity Catholic Coach Jeff Reavis called Westminster Christian a mirror image of his Celtics – a gritty team, challenging every ball. It took the will of Kiana, Izabelle and Amelia to propel the Celtics to a 25-20, 25-23, 25-23 victory Saturday in the Class 3A girls’ volleyball final at Suncoast Credit Union Arena.
The Celtics, who also won their first title since 2018, became the second Diocese of Orlando team to win at least two state girls volleyball championships. Bishop Moore has won six titles, most recently the 2016 Class 6A crown.
Kiana had a team-high 14 kills and 23 digs to lead the Celtics. Senior Chloe, one of four veterans from the 2018 championship team, added 12 kills and three blocks.
“They’re like us. We’re super scrappy, and at times they’re as good as us,” Kiana said. “But sometimes we were better.
Both Trinity Catholic (18-6) and Miami Westminster Christian (22-1) lost last year to Sarasota Cardinal Mooney. The Celtics also lost eight seniors off last year’s state semifinalist, leading to diminished expectations from volleyball-strong Ocala.
Trinity Catholic, however, maintained expectations. “They said it was going to be a rebuilding year, and we said no,” explained senior setter Izabelle. “We want to win states.”
That the team was able to even play was a testament to the planning and perseverance of the coaches and players. COVID-19 stole a few team-building opportunities. Coach Reavis said Trinity Catholic typically does a 7 to 10-day boot camp where they prepare for volleyball while building faith and team-bonding. Quarantine has not only removed that activity, but also delayed the start of practice for a month. Reavis said once the school year and in-class learning started, team members attended Mass with the rest of the school and prayed as a team both before and after Mass. Once the playoffs started, athletes switched to virtual learning, coming together only to practice. Yet they continued to pray as a team.
“We tried so hard to stay sports and faith-based,” he said. “Those are one and the same for us."
The Celtics, however, returned four players who played on the 2018 championship team – Campbell, Amy, Emily, and Chloe. Fellow senior Izabelle had 20 assists and 10 digs. The Celtics also bolstered the roster with high-impact underclassmen. Amelia added seven kills and 12 digs. Freshman McKenna posted a match-high 25 digs.
Trinity Catholic opened the match with a 7-3 run, building the lead eventually to 19-10. The Warriors got no closer than 4. The second game featured four lead changes and five ties, but Trinity closed with an overpass kill and another Westminster error.
The third game played out similarly, with five lead changes. The Celtics tallied five consecutive points off Amelia’s serve to close the match. Chloe’s final kill clinched the school’s second title.
Izabelle said the underclassmen can use this victory to spur them to something greater. “It’s a thing they’ll be able to bring on to the next two years – just the feeling that this is the best feeling in the world,” she said. “We can make it. We just need to believe in ourselves.”