St. James Academy won its sixth consecutive Kansas state volleyball championship Saturday, capping an undefeated season with a fifth victory over St. Thomas Aquinas.
Aquinas forced a third game against St. James for the first time this season, but the Thunder prevailed 25-11, 19-25, 25-17 in the Class 5A championship at the Kansas Expocentre.
The deciding game was tied at 6-6 when St. James got serious.
“I told them to relax,” Thunder coach Nancy Dorsey said. “Aquinas played so well. They did some things we hadn’t seen before. I told them to play our game.”
St. James, ranked No. 1 in the country by prepvolleyball.com, finished 46-0. This was the school’s second straight 5A crown after winning four in a row in 4A.
Thunder senior Arianna Person appeared to take over in the third game.
“This was my fourth year, and I wasn’t ready to go out yet,” she said. “I knew we had to step it up.”
Senior twins Bristol and Brianna Lewis won their fourth consecutive state championship.
“I was thinking this (the loss in the second game) wasn’t going to happen again,” Bristol Lewis said. “We won all year with hard work and teamwork.”
Brianna Lewis added, “I was not happy about losing (the second game), but I knew we could pull out the third game.”
The twins will split up next season. Bristol will be attending Northwest Missouri State while Brianna is heading for Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. She will be joined at Belmont by Person.
Aquinas, which won the East Kansas League, finished 36-9. Saints coach Kim Bogart rallied her team after the first-game loss.
“I told them to calm down and play our game,” she said. “We were nervous and playing in panic mode.”
St. James beat Wichita Kapaun-Mount Carmel, 25-13, 25-14 in the semifinals, while Aquinas beat Andover, 25-22, 25-20.