January 17, 2019

Championship Saturday

CVU girls soccer and boys volleyball complete undefeated seasons


Observer photo by Lauren Read
CVU soccer standouts Natalie Durieux (left) and Ali Bisaccia hoist the state championship trophy Saturday after beating Burr and Burton Academy.

Girls finish soccer season as undefeated champs

By Lauren Read

Observer correspondent

Not much has separated the Champlain Valley girls soccer team and rival Burr and Burton in the postseason the last couple of years.

Last year, penalty kicks were the difference in a semifinal loss for the Redhawks.

The two teams reunited Saturday in the Division I state final at Burlington High School, and CVU was looking for redemption.

“We both wanted it,” said CVU co-captain Ali Bisaccia. “It’s fun to play a team like that.”

Charlotte Hill scored the game’s only goal, lifting top-seeded CVU to the state championship and capping an undefeated season. It was the 17th state title for the program.

“I had a feeling that we might see (Burr and Burton) again. We certainly relished that opportunity, and it made for a great final,” said CVU coach Stan Williams.

“That’s the best feeling in the world,” Bisaccia said. “I am really proud of the team. I wouldn’t want to end the season and my career any other way.

“I don’t even have the words, I am just so excited.”

Observer photo by Lauren Read
Natalie Durieux pushes the ball upfield during CVU’s state championship game against Burr and Burton Academy on Saturday.

The two teams traded scoring chances through a scoreless first half.

“I had been a little frustrated,” Hill said. “We had a lot of chances, and I had had a lot of one-on-one’s with the goalie, and she came out well. I knew that one was coming, all I had to do was get in there.”

Hill and the Redhawks offense persisted and finally got on the board in the 65th minute. Bisaccia served a ball forward that forced a race between Hill and BBA goalie Sam Citron. Citron won the race, but bobbled the ball and the CVU sophomore tapped it into the empty net for the 1-0 lead.

“She was opportunistic,” Williams said. “For Charlotte to just keep going and going, she logged a lot of miles.”

After the goal, the Redhawks defense clamped down and held the Bulldogs off the board for the final 15 minutes to clinch the title.

“It’s a feeling like I can’t describe,” Hill said of the championship win.

Observer photo by Lauren Read
The undefeated CVU girls soccer team celebrates its title Saturday.

“Our seniors created such an atmosphere of inclusion,” Williams said. “They were the hardest workers, and when your best players are your hardest workers, it makes our job pretty easy.

“You’ll always remember the group, but this is the seniors’ championship.”

Observer photo by Al Frey
CVU’s Jacob Boliba takes a swing during the Redhawks’ championship game against Essex on Saturday at St. Michael’s College.

Unbeaten boys v-ball team tops Essex for second straight title

By Lauren Read

Observer correspondent

The Champlain Valley boys volleyball team has faced plenty of adversity this season.

So why not deal with a little more just before the start of the Division I state championship match at St. Michael’s College?

“We had a player get hurt two days ago; we had a starter go down in warm-ups,” said CVU coach Jeff Boliba. “The boys persevered. They played amazing. They showed really good grit.”

The Redhawks dealt with the loss of starter Will Burroughs after he hurt his ankle in warm-ups — plus the absence of Storm Rushford, the team’s emotional core, who is battling cancer — and fell behind in a decisive fifth set in Saturday’s title game.

“This has been one of the most challenging seasons, just the emotional stuff,” Boliba said. “We had to change quite a bit. We are very adaptable.”

CVU’s Samual (Raz) Hansen makes a strong serve during their Division 1 finals vs Essex on Saturday afternoon at St. Mikes

CVU handled the fifth-set deficit like it’s handled all of its adversity this season, taking the challenge in stride and topping Essex to win its second straight D-I state championship.

“We work hard on our team culture and being one,” Boliba said. “Our whole mantra this year was ‘stormstrong’ and we got this one for Storm.

“I could not be more proud of these boys.”

A quick start by No. 2 Essex had the Redhawks on their heels, as CVU adjusted to the absence of Burroughs. The Hornets emerged with the 26-24 win in the first set.

The top-seeded Redhawks rebounded in the second set, earning a narrow 27-25 victory, then pulled ahead in the third with another tight win, 25-23.

“We worked together, and we worked hard,” said CVU sophomore Baker Angstmann. “We were thinking of our friend Storm, and we just had to stay focused.”

The Hornets forced a decisive final set with a 25-16 win in the fourth, setting up a final tie-breaking game in the raucous gym at St. Mike’s.

Essex jumped out to an early lead in the fifth, pulling away for a 10-6 lead midway through the set. But the Redhawks dug deep and pulled back in it, winning six straight points to take a lead, then outscored the Hornets 5-2 in the final few points to secure the 15-12 victory in the final set.

The win capped an undefeated season for CVU.

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