Field Hockey wins their third title in four years, and Girls' Volleyball captures the SPC crown for the first time since 2009.
St. John’s Field Hockey won back-to-back field hockey championships in 2015 and 2016, giving them 13 since their first one in 1968. Last season, the Mavericks did not make the finals, which was won by Kinkaid, their opponent in this year’s title game. St. John’s rolled into Dallas for the 2018 SPC tournament as the number one SPC South seed. Other than Kinkaid, the Mavericks shut out all of their conference opponents by a 7.25 average margin. The Mavericks defeated Kinkaid 2-1 in the last regular season game.
Coming off two shutouts apiece in the first two rounds, both teams were flexing their team defense early on in the final. While Kinkaid was stopping Maverick shots, St. John’s was limiting most Falcon advances inside the circle. At the 22 minute mark, Mary VanLoh ’20 struck the first goal, assisted by Sadie McCabe ’20 and that’s how the first half ended. Sadie McCabe gave the Mavs a 2-0 lead on an assist by Fred Fyhr ’19 with 15 minutes to go in the game. Kate Ainbinder ’20 put the game out of reach for the third Maverick goal (assisted by Amelie Perrier ’19.) St. John’s had 10 corners to Kinkaid’s 5 and dominated the second half.
“This is one of the most unified teams you can ask for,” said Head Coach Craig Chambers ’81. “From freshmen to seniors, they worked well together and played great. It was a fun year.”
“I was a little nervous since we only beat them 2-1 the last time we played,” said Fyhr. “Finishing strong is really important to us and a 3-0 was an accomplishment."
“The whole season was really rewarding,” said senior Izzy Chambers. “It was the perfect way to end.”
The last time St. John’s Girls’ Volleyball won back to back titles was in 1986 and 1987. They also won recently as 2009 for the school's 14th title. Like Field Hockey, the Mavericks would face a familiar Houston rival in the championship match (Episcopal). Both teams split their two previous contests, with St. John’s winning the last one in five sets to claim the top seed going into the SPC tournament.
In Saturday's final held at ESD, parents and the SJS Boys' Volleyball team were fully present in the crowd. The Mavericks trailed the Knights 24-21 in the opening set but somehow hung in there to steal it back 26-24. This resiliency and no-quit attitude was a theme that resonated all season long and part of a new slogan at SPC called “Steal the ‘ship.”
St. John’s won the second game 25-20, and red and black pirate flags were waving with pride. The long lost ‘ship was about to be in Maverick hands, but EHS won the third set 19-25.
“Every time they got going we managed to bounce back,” said Celia Adams ’20, who led the team with 22 kills. “We were not afraid to make mistakes.”
“We matched up with them in skill and we wanted it more,” said Siena Zerr ’19 who added 8 digs and 15 kills.
“We had more energy and we came out and kept fighting,” said Alexandra Lewis ’19, who finished with a team-high 45 assists plus 13 digs.
Led by Nova Manning’s ’21 team-high 17 digs., St. John’s would not fold, winning the fourth set 25-17.
“We knew they were strong, but if we could keep the ball off the floor and do the extra things, we knew we could win,” said Head Coach Shelbi Irvin. “I’m so proud of this team. They worked so hard!”
Hail, St. John's. Hail, St. John's!!
Sam Chambers- Athletic News
(Photos by Benny He)