An injury forced Bishop Gorman girls volleyball outside hitter Ayanna Watson to miss last year’s playoffs.
Gorman came up short in their goal last season to be back-to-back state champions, but with a healthy Watson, the Gaels showed they were the team to beat for the state title.
Watson racked up a team-high 32 kills and added 14 digs in Gorman’s 3-1 win over Coronado on Saturday in the Class 5A state championship game. She added 22 kills and 15 digs in the Gaels’ three-set win over Reno High on Friday in the semifinals.
For her efforts, she was named Nevada Preps Girls Athlete of the Week.
“It feels great,” Watson said Saturday of winning the title. “We didn’t get this opportunity last year, so it feels really great.”
On Saturday, Gorman breezed through the first two sets over Coronado with Watson dominating the net. The Cougars won the third set, but Watson said the break between the third and fourth sets was important for the Gaels to close out the win.
“During the third set, we made a lot of unforced errors,” said Watson, a sophomore. “We were just telling each other that we needed to do our best, and if it’s not there, then we just need to keep the ball in. We were telling each other to calm down because we were also really tense.”
Watson said focusing on one thing at a time helped her in the fourth set.
“I had to tell myself to focus on the pass first and then watching the set come out of my setter’s hand and then focusing on contact with the ball,” Watson said. “It really helped me to calm down and focus.”
As Gorman won the final point, the Gaels swarmed the floor in celebration of winning the title.
“It’s just the camaraderie and the way we’re able to easily bond,” Watson said. “Not one really argues, if something’s wrong, we can always talk about it. This team is really special.”