NorCal volleyball final: Archbishop Mitty defeats Mountain View rival, clinches berth in state title game vs. Mater Dei.
SAN JOSE – When Amiya Kuchibhotla spiked the ball for the final point, the Archbishop Mitty gymnasium erupted in celebration of the 3-1 NorCal Open Division victory.
The senior middle hitter joined a swarm of Monarchs in the center of the court after the team defeated St. Francis for the final time in 2023, the final of six meetings between the elite volleyball programs.
The San Jose school denied St. Francis of Assisi back-to-back NorCal Open titles, gave Mitty two of the last three, and added another championship banner to its crowded rafters.
The Monarch’s next destination? A trip to Orange County’s Santiago Canyon College for the state Open Division championship game.
“I’m so happy and grateful, especially since it’s my senior year,” Kuchibhotla said. “I’m super-excited.”
Archbishop Mitty won the first set 25-12, scoring the final five points on a barrage of kills and aces. In that dominant set, sophomore Makenna Crosson had five kills, one ace, and a block.
“We wanted to find our rhythm, and we wanted to make sure St. Francis would know that we weren’t going down without a fight,” said Crosson.
The next set was much more competitive, with St. Francis rallying from a 3-0 deficit (all three points on Katelyn Cook kills) to take a 20-18 lead. Mitty’s hitting duo of Crosson and Isabella Romero responded with three kills each to put the San Jose school up 2-0.
“We knew they were going to have a response, and they did,” said Mitty coach Jon Wallace.
St. Francis went on a 4-0 run in the third set, led by outside hitter Taylor Williams and middle hitter Ella Fulton, to take a 12-8 lead. Jon’s daughter, Erin Curtis, and libero Whitney Wallace, both played well in the 25-19 victory.
“You know, win or lose, we still battled.” Lake Merchen, coach at St. Francis, stated. “They’re still one of the best teams in the state, and you know, if that’s not something to be proud of, I don’t know what is.”
The fourth and final set featured several rallies as well as excellent blocking, serving, and hitting. At one point, Mitty led 16-11, but St. Francis scored four consecutive points to cut the lead to 16-15. From there, Mitty held off St. Francis to win the final set 25-20.
Mater Dei-Santa Ana stands in the way of Mitty’s first state championship since 2017. In the SoCal final, the 42-2 Orange County team defeated the defending Open Division state champions Cathedral Catholic-San Diego 3-1.
Wallace said his Monarchs saw Mater Dei play in a tournament earlier this season and know winning the state championship will be difficult.
“We know what it’s going to take,” Wallace admitted. “We’ve gotten pushed to our limits (this season), so hopefully we’ll show up and do well down there.”