Ainsley McGovern
Ainsley McGovern of Laguna Blanca recorded 16 kills on the day, helping the Owls win the Bishop Diego Classic. (Gary Kim / Noozhawk photo)

Laguna Blanca rode the strong play of middle blockers Paige Levinson and Ella Delwiche to beat Cate School 25-19 in a one-set final on Saturday and claim the title of the first annual Cardinal Classic girls volleyball tournament, hosted by Bishop Diego.

The Owls (2-2) avenged a four-set loss to Windward one night earlier by edging the Wildcats in the semifinals, 25-22. Cate handed Chadwick its first loss in the other semifinal and finished second in the 11-team tourney, Windward and Chadwick tied for third and St. Bonaventure and Villanova Prep tied for fifth.

Channel Islands won the consolation bracket, defeating Coastal Christian 25-14.

Chidera Chukmuwerijie

Cate’s Chidera Chukmweriji extends way over the top of the net to attack a ball. (Gary Kim / Noozhawk photo)

Macy Christal led Laguna with 25 kills in nine games. Audrey Murphy added 18 and Ainsley McGovern had 16. Bea Lujan was the digs leader with 32. Sophia Webster had 13 kills and 25 digs, the same total as Macy Christal.

“Paige Levinson and Ella Delwiche played huge roles in the middle during both the semis and the finals,” said Laguna coach Jason Donnelly. “We were able to get our middles involved early and it made a huge difference. Our setter Annie Gabler played so well today, keeping all of our hitters involved all day long.

“What a great day for our team. Anytime a team can battle all day long and come out with a tournament title, it’s a good day. But most importantly, we continue to improve in all aspects of the game, and these girls have really bought in to all of the learning that’s going on in our gym.”

The Owls beat Bishop Diego 25-11, 25-15, 25-15 in pool play, then fell to Chadwick 2-1 (19-25, 18-25, 26-24).

For Cate, it was their second runner-up finish in a tournament.

“We’re only in preseason, this shows the guts and determination of our existing and future varsity players,” said Cate coach Greg Novak.

Libero Olivia Dorion played well and served 12 aces on the day. Riley Borchardt served 11 aces and ran the Rams’ 5-1 offense.

Grace Johnson led the attack with 22 kills followed by Kenzie Davison with 20 and sophomore middle Chidera Chukmuwerijie with 15 kills.

Ashlyn Oxton

Ashlyn Oxton of Bishop Diego hits against Orcutt Academy. (Gary Kim / Noozhawk photo)

“The tourney was a great success for all teams involved,” said first-year Bishop Diego coach Dillan Bennett. “The event brought a great variety of teams from across the South Coast and proved to be a good test of consistency throughout a long, hot day of volleyball.

“Ari Morones and Julia Gregson did a great job today for us. Julia played flawlessly in the back court, while Ari contributed at the net and from the service line.”

Laguna will take on Providence on Tuesday at the Page Center with the first serve at 5 p.m.