Catalina took a good first step in defending its 2A-4A state volleyball title by winning the TUSD Invitational for the second straight year, coach Heather Moore-Martin said.
The Trojans swept Catalina Foothills 25-18, 25-20 Saturday at Pueblo High School in a rematch of last year's state final.
After jumping to a four-point lead, Catalina closed the first set with 7-3 run. Trailing 24-16 and facing match point, Foothills' Tolu Obafemi registered a kill to provide a spark for the Falcons.
But three points later, Catalina middle blocker Josh DeYoung returned the favor to win the first set.
"I just try to hit it as hard as I can, every single time I can," De-Young said.
The senior added he would have been disappointed had Catalina not won the tournament.
"I really didn't expect anything less, because we won it last year and we won state last year," De-Young said.
The match got a little closer in the second set.
Foothills pulled even with the Trojans four times in the set, but Catalina never trailed.
Obafemi tied the set at 19 with a block, then Catalina took a 21-19 lead. After Obafemi and A.J. Sahyouni teamed for another block to pull within one, Catalina's Cooper Kowalski launched a kill and senior setter Lorenzo Gonzales leaped for a block. It was all Catalina from there.
Catalina has yet to lose this season. It went 6-0 in the tourney and senior middle blocker Marcellious Gibbs said the team believes it can remain that way.
"We are focusing on our goal, which is to win state again," he said.
Gonzales said he has been working hard on connecting with the hitters.
"Towards the end of the tournament, I felt like I had it together with everybody," Gonzales said.
Moore-Martin also was upbeat.
"When we talk, support and our fundamentals are right behind that, we're a good volleyball team," she said.
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