Cate Volleyball
The Cate volleyball team opened its season with a second-place finish at the Santa Ana Tournament (Courtesy photo)

Cate girls volleyball opened its season by taking second place at the Santa Ana Saints Volleyball Tournament on Saturday.

The Rams swept through three pool-play matches and won two one-set playoff matches over Santa Ana Valley (25-17) and Costa Mesa (25-23) to reach the finals against Santa Ana Calvary Chapel. They came up short against a strong-hitting opponent, falling 25-19.

“We passed and hit very well but was unable to stop Calvary’s big hitters,” coach Greg Novak said.

The Rams rallied from an 18-11 deficit and pulled to within two points (21-19). Calvary Chapel, however, scored on a couple of tough serves and finished off the set for the title.

Cate sophomore Chidera Chukmuwerijie crushing a middle set at the Santa Ana Tournament. Cate finished as runner-up in the season-opening event.

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Novak was pleased how the Rams performed in their first competition,
“The passing and defense throughout the tournament can’t go unnoticed,” he said. “Grace Blankenhorn passed a 2.61 (out of 3.0), which allowed us to set up plays and run a dynamic offense.”

Grace Johnson and Kenzie Davidson contributed to solid passing with a 2.48 and 2.28, respectively. Blankenhorn led in digs with 31 and Johnson followed with 26. Setters Maya Blattberg and Riley Borchardt did a great job distributing the ball to all hitters on the court, said Novak.

In pool play, Davidson led potent attack with a .500 hitting percentage. Chidera Chuckmuwerijie had 18 kills on 28 attempts. The team served 30 aces, led by Blankenhorn with eight and Maya Blattberg with seven.

In the semifinals, Cate rallied from a 19-16 deficit, sparked by the serving of Athena von Bothmer. Johnson got the kill to finish the game.

“The tournament proved to be a very successful and productive day,” Novak said. “The team gained a lot of knowledge and experience which will gives them a good kick start into the season.”

Noozhawk Sports Editor Barry Punzal can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

— Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.