Bishop Kenny nails down state volleyball championship, 3rd in program history

Bishop Kenny’s volleyball team was under .500 at one point this season.

On Sunday afternoon, the Crusaders stood alone at the top of the Class 4A hill, bringing home another state championship to Jacksonville.

The Crusaders won the third championship in program history on Sunday afternoon, knocking off volleyball dynasty Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons 3-1 in the Class 4A title game in Fort Myers.

Kenny’s 29-27, 25-18, 17-25, 25-20 victory denied Gibbons its state-record upping 21st championship and drove home one very prominent message.

Beat the Crusaders early in the season or struggle to slow them down late. Kenny has made 19 state semifinal visits and six appearances in the championship match. Quite a few of those final four trips included teams with eight-, nine- or double-figure loss seasons, building block defeats early in the season that galvanize the Crusaders for the long haul.

This year was evidence of that.

Kenny (21-8) was 4-6 at one point in the year, an uneven start for coach Suzanne Winkler’s team. But as the Crusaders have done time and again in their history, the finish was what mattered most.

Allison Cavanaugh had 19 kills to lead Kenny, followed by Bailey Chin with 11. Alexis Chin had 37 assists. Those totals were more than Gibbons' leading players had. Tina Nika had 23 digs and six service aces, both match-highs.

Kenny joins previous state championship teams in 1999, a group led by two-time area player of the year Elizabeth Tyson, and the powerhouse 2014 squad paced by Denvyr Tyler-Palmer and Nadine Williams, to bring titles home.

This marked just the second time in area history that two local teams brought home titles in the same year. Ponte Vedra and Christ’s Church won championships in 2017. The Sharks swept Jensen Beach on Saturday to win the Class 5A crown.

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