Perfect! In a word, that’s how you can describe the Exeter girls volleyball 2019 campaign. Big Red wrapped up their historic season with a spotless 20-0 record and a Class A title following a 3-0 win over Hopkins on Sunday afternoon.
The title is the fifth in the program’s history and first since claiming back-to-back championships in 2014 and 2015.
It was an ace from Angelle Diamond ’20 that clinched the three-set sweep and earned Big Red the title, which was fitting as the senior was nothing short of spectacular all afternoon. Diamond, Annah Shaheen ’20 and setter Joy Liu ’20 powered a dominant offensive performance that proved to be difficult for Hopkins to contain.
“These seniors are special and they deserve to finish at the top,” said head coach Bruce Shang of Diamond, Liu, Mia Glinn ’20 and post-graduate Shaheen. “We had a drive to finish what we started last year, when it sadly ended at the championship. This year, we knew that there was one goal, and that was to win it.”
The opening set was tight throughout and saw both sides battle back against set points before a clutch Shaheen kill from the back row gave Big Red a 27-26 edge, allowing Exeter to serve for a 1-0 match lead.
Big Red kept the momentum from there. Liu set up Diamond for three straight kills early on in the second set, forcing a Hopkins timeout. The Liu-Diamond connection would be on display after the break as the two connected for another point to stake a 10-4 lead. Exeter kept their foot on the gas and closed out the second set 25-14.
Big Red would ride Shaheen’s serve early on in the third to help stake a 9-4 advantage. Hopkins would regroup and slowly claw their way back to pull to within three, 21-18, before Diamond ended a long rally that saw bodies diving all over the floor with a cross-court kill. With the momentum back fully on the Exeter side, Diamond was able to close out the match with an ace just inside the line to cap Big Red’s perfect season.
The season was as dominant as you would expect for a team with a 20-0 record; Big Red only dropped seven sets all year long, never ventured into a fifth and deciding set, and did not drop a single set through three postseason matches.
“We didn’t really think about going undefeated,” said Shang, “but we did have the focus of getting better every practice. That’s our team motto.”