Kentucky's triple threat posts strong finish at Durango Classic

By Walter Villa

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – If you assumed Assumption is the only strong team in Kentucky, you’d be wrong.

Assumption (Louisville, Ky.) won the Durango Fall Classic on Saturday night, but the Rockets’ two state mates at the tournament also had impressive showings.

Sacred Heart (Louisville, Ky.) won the silver championship Saturday, rallying to beat Torrey Pines (San Diego, Calif.), 22-25, 25-14, 25-21. The silver title was good for an overall finish of ninth place.

The third Kentucky team at Durango this weekend was Notre Dame Academy (Park Hills, Ky.), and the Pandas finished a respectable 15th out of 48.

All three Kentucky teams entered the tournament ranked in the POWERADE FAB 50, with Assumption 13th, Sacred Heart 35thand Notre Dame 46th.

The trio combined to go 9-0 on Friday and 17-4 for the weekend, with three of the losses charged to Notre Dame (4-3). Assumption went 7-0, and Sacred Heart rolled to a 6-1 record in Vegas.

“We’ve been clicking the last couple of weeks or so,” Sacred Heart coach Eric Garvey said. “This was a continuation of us playing well.”

Sacred Heart’s only loss in Vegas was Saturday morning in a round of 16 game against Xavier (Phoenix, Ariz.), 25-18, 25-23. But Garvey’s team regrouped and won three straight, beating Pleasant Grove (Pleasant Grove, Utah), Edison (Huntington Beach, Calif.) and Torrey Pines.

Sacred Heart, which lost just three sets in its seven matches, has another big test on Sept. 25 at Assumption.

“They’re tough,” Garvey said of Assumption. “Their two setters, Katie George and Alexa Filley, are amazing.”

California shows its depth

None of them won the top prize, but three California schools finished in the top four. Los Alamitos (Los Alamitos, Calif.) came in second, followed by Marymount (Los Angeles, Calif.) and La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.).

Los Alamitos, which entered the tournament ranked seventh in the POWERADE FAB 50 – highest among all the teams at Durango – is now 12-1. It had not lost a set this season until Saturday’s semifinals, when it gave up a 24-21 lead to Marymount.

Los Alamitos came back to beat Marymount but could not sustain that momentum against Assumption.

Champs again, sort of

Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood, Calif.), which won the 2010 Durango Fall Classic, failed to repeat this year, losing in Friday’s play-in game to Xavier.

But Harvard-Westlake showed character in rebounding to win the competition division championship, good for an overall finish of 25th.

No Ma’a for Kamehameha

Misty Ma’a, a talented 6-foot-1 outside hitter, missed the last three matches for Kamehameha (Honolulu, Hawaii) after hurting her right arm diving for a ball.

Ma’a, showing a bruise on her right forearm, appeared to be in pain, although no tests had yet been taken to determine the severity of the injury.

“It’s frustrating to sit out matches,” said Ma’a, who said she did not think the injury was serious.

Even without Ma’a, Kamehameha was impressive, finishing sixth. The Warriors lost a heartbreaker in the quarterfinals, falling 27-25, 25-23 to La Costa Canyon.

Green Valley leads Vegas teams

Green Valley (Henderson, Nev.), which had a big showing on Friday, came in 28th, the highest finish for a Vegas-area team in this year’s tournament.

Host Durango came in 45th, just ahead of fellow Vegas-area schools Shadow Ridge (Las Vegas, Nev.), Coronado (Henderson, Nev.) and Foothill (Henderson, Nev.).