In a style that was as dominant as its previous win was heart-stopping, Mater Dei High School captured the CIF State Girls’ Volleyball Open Division championship Nov. 17, defeating Central of Fresno in straight sets.

The 25-13, 25-12, 25-13 victory at Santiago Canyon College in Orange gave the Monarchs their first state title in girls’ volleyball after three previous losses in the title match, including last year as well as 2003 and 2004. Coached by Dan O’Dell, Mater Dei ended the 2018 season with a 43-2 record, the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 title, and the No. 1 national ranking from Maxpreps.

The win over Fresno was very much a team effort. Mater Dei’s Mia Tuaniga and Natalie Berty posted nine kills each, Brielle Mullally and Meg Brown each had eight, and Tuaniga and Mullally each totaled 16 assists.

Mater Dei’s win in the state final followed an exciting comeback win in the Southern California Regional final on Nov. 13. The Monarchs came from two sets down to beat local rival Marymount, 26-28, 21-25, 25-19, 25-18, 15-7, their third win in four matches against the Sailors this season.

Tuaniga, Berty and Kristina Pepek each had 15 kills for the Monarchs, with Mullaly leading all players with 29 and Tuaniga adding 19, while Mandalay Rennon had 16 digs. For Marymount, Devon Newberry led all players with 19 kills; Grace Froehling had 28 assists and Taylor Fourticq 19; and Camryn Carfino had 14 digs.

The match came three days after Marymount had won an exhausting semifinal over Torrey Pines, 26-24, 29-27, 28-26 while top-seeded Mater Dei beat No. 4 Redondo Union 19-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-19.

Mike Nelson is the former editor of The Tidings (predecessor of Angelus News).

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