When Sundance needed a lift or a big play Saturday, senior Teila McInerney was more than happy to oblige.
McInerney had the game-winning kills in the first two sets and helped the Bulldogs rally from a late deficit in the third set to lead Sundance to a 3-0 (25-23, 25-17, 25-23) sweep of three-time defending state champion Wright at the Casper Events Center.
“She’s been our go-to girl all year,” Sundance head coach Greta Crawford said. “She was great today, but it took all six of us on the court to make this happen. This was a total team effort.”
The victory not only allowed Sundance to avenge last year’s championship-game loss to Wright, but ended the Bulldogs’ 11-year state title drought.
Sundance trailed 16-14 in the first set when Crawford called a timeout to deliver a simple message to her team.
“We just weren’t executing early,” Crawford said. “We were in the right position to make plays, but we just weren’t making them. I just told them to stay focused and play their game.”
The Bulldogs took their coach’s advice to heart, going on a 7-1 run to take a 21-17 advantage.
Wright wasn’t about to relinquish its state championship without a fight, however, and battled back within 24-22 with a block at the net. But the 5-foot-9 McInerney ended the set with a thundering kill through the middle.
The Bulldogs were in control throughout the second set, with McInerney punctuating the victory with a blistering kill.
In the third set, Wright led 22-19 when Crawford called another timeout.
“We play a game every day in practice where we’re down 21-18 and we have to win,” she said. “I told them, ‘This is just like practice.’”
Again, the Bulldogs listened.
Sophomore Rigan McInerney began the rally with an ace. Following a kill by Wright senior Briannah Quick, Tiela McInerney scored the next three points — on a tip and two kills — to put the Bulldogs at match point at 24-23.
A short rally ended when a Wright kill sailed out of bounds and the Bulldogs began their victory celebration.
“Last year was a big pile of disappointment,” Tiela McInerney said, “so to win it all this year is absolutely amazing.
“We put in so much work all year ... we deserve this.”