SAN JOSE -- After beating Sacred Heart Cathedral for the fourth time this season, Valley Christian will make the school's first volleyball state championship appearance since 1987 when it plays Southern California champion Central Valley Christian of Visalia on Saturday for the state Division III championship.

The Warriors won 25-18, 25-14, 25-23 Tuesday at their home gym to win the Northern California title. A sweet outcome after advancing to the NorCal finals and losing to Campolindo 3-1 last year.

"We had a little taste,'' Valley Christian coach Jeff Kim said. "We wanted more. We were on a mission this year.''

Valley Christian (34-8) dominated the first two sets. Sacred Heart Cathedral (31-10) took its first lead of the match at 4-3 in the third set and held the lead until the Warriors drew even at 18-18. From then on it was back and forth until Valley broke away from a 23-23 tie to close it out.

"That was a fun one,'' Kim said. "Sacred Heart Cathedral is a great team. They dig a lot of balls. It's never easy to beat a team like that four times.''

Ronika Stone had a team-high 11 kills. Maddie Dilfer had 10 kills and 17 assists. Jess Hess had 23 digs and Kirsten Mead had six kills and 20 assists.

"The whole season we were trying to get back there, not just get back there but go further,'' said Mead, the West Catholic Athletic League MVP. "Everyone was a year older, more experienced and mentally tougher. We worked hard to improve.''


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Valley Christian demonstrated its tremendous power-hitting ability throughout the match with SHC. It's a team with great size. Stone and Ashlyn Fleming, both 6-foot-3 sophomores, along with Ella Lajos, a 6-3 junior, and Hess, a 6-2 junior, gave the Warriors a significant size advantage over the Irish.

"We're blessed to have some height on our team,'' Kim said. Mead and Dilfer, a pair of 5-11 players who might be primary attackers on another team, are able to function as dual ball handlers for the Warriors.

"We've got a lot of different options,'' Dilfer said. "It makes it a lot of fun to run the offense.''

Now VC will turn its attention to an attempt to win the first state volleyball championship in school history.

"We will try to make some history,'' Kim said. "This group deserves it. They've worked hard, not just this year but for a number of years to get this far.''