It came after the squad dropped a close four-game match to the Dons in the same round last year in front of a raucous Santa Barbara home crowd.
“The best thing about that, is [Santa Barbara] had to come in and deal with our fans,” Sacred Heart Coach Shelli Orlandini said. “They had the [advantage] last year. It’s really hard to go into a gym when you have that kind of intimidation going.”
This time around, it was the Tologs doing the intimidating.
Traveling with a small fan base, the Santa Barbara supporters tried as they might to rally their troops. It would not be enough to drown out the cheers echoing from the Sacred Heart side of the stands.
Last year, the obligatory cheers of the word “chowder” continuously could be heard coming from the Dons’ student section, if nothing else causing an annoying playing setting.
This time, there would be no chowder, much to the delight of the Tologs.
“It was awesome,” said Condon, of not having to deal with the opposing students rants.
Instead of fighting off the distractions, the Tologs energy was strictly focused on the match at hand.
Whether it was Condon spiking home five kills in the opening game, the team overcoming a late deficit in the second, or a flat out dominating performance in the third, the home crowd was there cheering along the Tologs’ triumphs every step of the way.
“When you have that kind of support base with your fans, they almost become like a seventh player,” Orlandini said. “Santa Barbara didn’t have that seventh player tonight.”
It was a seventh player that the top-seed Dons had relied on up until this point in the postseason, having drawn home matches thus far. But it was a lack of the same seventh player which they were unable to overcome.
“We would have had a higher level of comfort at home,” Santa Barbara Coach John Gannon said.
It was the Tologs who won the coin flip for home court, though, and the Tologs who won a trip to their first CIF title game since 2002.
“The most motivating factor is playing at home and playing in front of your fans,” Orlandini said.