By Lauren Read
Last year was a good one for the Champlain Valley Union High School sports teams. They added to unbeaten streaks and back-to-back-back-back title runs. They dominated opponents and pulled late-game heroics. Here is a look at some of the top sports moments from 2016.
Girls basketball makes it four in a row
The Champlain Valley girls basketball team barely even blinked in its run to the program’s fourth Division I state championship in a row and a 95-0 record over the last four seasons. The Redhawks capped off the undefeated run with a 40-28 win over BFA-St. Albans in the title game, capturing the crown with an ease that was another example of the team’s dominance. Paced by Sadie Otley and Laurel Jaunich, the CVU senior class — eight players in total — graduated without losing a high school basketball game. While the Redhawks will aim for title No. 5 in 2017, the unbeaten streak did not survive the graduation of its vaunted senior class, CVU fell to Rice 96-1 on Dec. 27.
One more title for boys lacrosse
The CVU girls basketball team was not the only Redhawk program with a four-in-a-row streak on the line in 2016. The Champlain Valley boys lacrosse capped off its own four-peat and they did it in dramatic fashion. After South Burlington tied the game at 11 with under a minute to play and with overtime looming, CVU’s Matt Palmer found the back of the net with just 10 seconds to play to give the Redhawks the 12-11 win and the D-I state title.
Volleyball sweeps first state titles
While the CVU volleyball teams have competed for and won state championships in three years as a club team, this time the titles counted. Competing in a Vermont Principals’ Association state championship match for the first time after volleyball was awarded varsity status, the Redhawk boys and girls both won the sport’s first state titles. The girls topped Essex in a raucous, back-and-forth match, while the boys needed just four sets to dispatch their opponent, also Essex.
Girls tennis wins again
Using a combination of smart strategy and a reliance on one of the best individual tennis players in the state, the Champlain Valley girls tennis team edged South Burlington 4-3 to cap off its second straight undefeated season with a D-I state championship. While the Redhawks and Rebels battled all over the courts at Davis Park, CVU’s No. 1 Kathy Joseph took the court in the last match of the day and quietly rolled to a win over South Burlington’s top player. With the 6-1, 6-1 victory, Joseph effectively handed the Redhawks the victory. With three of the other matches going the distance, having Joseph in her back pocket was important for coach Amy deGroot and she knew it, so she saved the best for last. A winning strategy, yet again, for the Redhawks.
Cross-country domination continues
Another year, another title for the CVU girls cross country team. This year, though, the Redhawks boys decided to join the fun. The girls team won its eighth straight D-I state title — and 14th in the last 15 years — with Sophia Gorman finishing No. 2 and the rest of the CVU harriers pacing in the top 20. The boys team, led by Tyler Marshall’s winning run, captured the D-I crown for the second year in a row. Just one year after finally getting on the top of the podium, the Redhawk boys seem be to be enjoying the view, but will they ever catch the girls?