Crusaders Pull Off Season Sweep for Volleyball State Title

By Rene Ferran | For The Oregonian/OregonLive | PHOTOS: Claude Pelletier

As Brooke Olson's tipped ball floated to the floor, Alyssa Hughes thought to herself, Just one more point.

The Jesuit senior turned away from the net and, to her surprise, watched her teammates dogpiling in the middle of the court.

A second later, Hughes joined in the celebration, as Olson's kill indeed finished off the top-seeded Crusaders' 25-13, 25-11, 27-25 victory over Sprague in Saturday night's 6A volleyball state championship match at Liberty High School in Hillsboro.

"A lot of happiness," the Gonzaga-bound middle blocker said after notching seven kills and four blocks in the final. "But a little bit of sadness, too, because it's all over."

For Hughes, Saturday's victory "rounded the circle" for her and the five other seniors on the roster. The Crusaders' last state title came in 2015 when they were freshmen.

"My closest friends were on the court with me tonight," Hughes said. "That's really cool."

Loyola Marymount-bound outside hitter Rose Booth, a unanimous selection to the all-tournament first team, had 16 kills, eight digs and three blocks to help the Crusaders (29-4) finish the season undefeated against in-state opponents. Jesuit did not drop a set during a 15-match win streak capped with the program's sixth title.

"The way we came together as a team, what makes us so special, is the connection we have on and off the court," Booth said. "We're best friends off the court, and that pushes us every day.

"I'm on top of the world right now with my teammates."

The Crusaders' only losses this season came at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix, a prestigious mid-September tournament that drew some of the top teams from around the country. They went 2-1 in pool play and won their opener in bracket play before dropping three consecutive matches – including a quarterfinal against Marymount of Los Angeles, ranked No. 21 in the nation by the American Volleyball Coaches Association, and another to Walton of Marietta, Ga., ranked No. 18.

"That tournament taught us a lot about ourselves," Booth said. "Those were tough matches, where we were battling point for point. It strengthened us to see we could hang with the best teams around, how to battle through games."

Hughes added, "It taught us how to stay composed and be calm against really good teams." Continue reading on