The Damien Spartans entered the CIF-SS Division 5 Championship playoffs as the favorites to win it all, and they did just that.
The top-seeded Spartans ousted Arrowhead Christian in four sets, 12-25, 25-18, 25-20, 25-23. This victory gave Damien their first CIF championship in the five-year-old program’s history.
The Spartans handled their first four opponents in the playoffs, dropping only one set in the process. Second-seed Arrowhead Christian Academy Eagles also rolled through the rounds, winning every set. That pushed their consecutive set streak to 34, and their winning streak to 17.
The Eagles stood between the Spartans and their first championship, with senior hitter Kaleb Denmark leading the way. Denmark and the Eagles took the first set, thumping the Spartans, 25-12. Denmark had eight kills in the set.
The second set seemed eerily familiar, as Damien found themselves down 4-1. But the Spartans used a 13-4 run to take control, pushing them ahead 14-8. They kept control the rest of the set, winning 25-18.
The third set went in Damien’s favor, 25-20, thanks to their stellar blocking. The Spartans then held off the Eagles in the fourth set, 25-22, to win the championship.
Junior outside hitter Chris Mercado finished with 14 kills, including the game winner. Senior Chris Jorritsma chipped in 11 kills.
Denmark attempted 66 kills, and landed 24 of them.
The Spartans now enter the CIF SoCal Volleyball Championships.