After winning the first set and blowing a lead to lose the second, Cienega came together and showed what it was capable of en route to its second TUSD Invitational title in the last three years.
The Bobcats (7-2) regrouped heading into the deciding set and jumped out to a 6-0 lead over Catalina at Sabino on Saturday. The Trojans narrowed Cienega's lead to 6-3, but that was as close as they got in the title game of the 12-team tourney.
After the Bobcats took a 14-7 lead, junior Stephanie Mendivil slammed a hard spike over the net that went off a Catalina player and bounced out of bounds. The 6-foot-3-inch Mendivil jumped for joy.
"I was just so excited for my team. We played strong this weekend, and we deserved it," she said. "It was a team effort; in that game we finally came out and played as one."
Mendivil also had a kill in the first set to pull the Bobcats within match point at 24-19. They won that set 25-20.
Mendivil led the team with 16 kills in the championship match.
The Trojans (6-1) broke a 9-9 tie to take their first lead in the second set. From there they took a 20-15 lead and won 25-23 after Cienega pulled within a point of tying the score.
Catalina coach Heather Moore-Martin said she was satisfied with her team's tourney performance but she wished the championship match had gone differently.
"I think it was a good opportunity for us to raise our level of play," she said. "I just don't feel they brought to the final what they brought all day long today and yesterday."
Cienega coach Heather Mott said Mendivil is the obvious physical leader on the floor, but she needs every player to win.
"Everybody has to play their part," Mott said. "If you matched us up talent for talent against any other team in the city, we might not match up, but when we put our hearts into it and we play as a team, we are better as a whole."