BOISE — Joline Armuth wasn’t surprised.

The Bishop Kelly volleyball coach might have been the only one.

Her team ran previously unbeaten and 4A Southern Idaho Conference leader Nampa out of the gym in a little more than an hour. The Knights swept the Bulldogs 25-18, 25-12, 26-24 in SIC play Tuesday night at Bishop Kelly High.

“I do think they made a statement maybe to others, but we knew all along that we had that in us,” Armuth said. “We know that we’re a contender no matter what. Whether teams have won a bunch or lost a bunch, they’re all in our way for where we’re trying to go.”

Cece Fitz led the way for Bishop Kelly with 16 kills and six blocks. Analise Hitchcock recorded 29 assists, five digs, three aces and a pair of kills. Christian Blake chipped in with six kills and four aces, while Helen Sullivan had 12 digs and one ace for the Knights (9-3 overall, 4-1 SIC) who became the first team to sweep Nampa in match play this season.

The Bulldogs (9-3, 6-1) entered the match having won six straight games. Their only losses were to 5A’s Mountain View and Meridian. Bishop Kelly, on the other hand, had just been swept by Kuna Thursday.

And it looked like that loss for the Knights was going to carry over when Nampa got out to a 9-5 advantage in the first set. But Bishop Kelly had other ideas.

A Hitchcock kill jump-started a 9-0 run that suddenly put the Knights up 14-9. They never looked back. Lauren Gauna completed the comeback with an ace for the 25-18 first-set win.

“We’ve come back from far worse deficits than that, so I think just knowing that wasn’t the worst situation we’ve been in, didn’t rattle them at all,” Armuth said. “{span}They just kept plugging away and knew that if they just chipped away at it and took care of their own business, it would work out.{/span}

{span}”All year we’ve sort of been able to maintain the ability to pull out of a hole if we create one.”{/span}

Bishop Kelly rode that momentum to a dominating second set, where it led by as many as 13 points on the way to a 25-12 win after Nampa’s Mackenzie Karpowitz hit a return out of bounds. The 12 points were the fewest amount of points the Bulldogs had scored in 32 sets.

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Fitz then made it a clean sweep by completely taking over in the third set.

The senior middle blocker who earned All-4A SIC first-team honors last year, scored three of the Knights’ first four points. She had seven kills and four blocks by the time Bishop Kelly was up 19-13.

However, since Fitz isn’t really a backrow player, she was subbed out.

Nampa scored 10 out of the next 12 points and went up 23-21 in her absence.

But Fitz came back in shortly after and put down a pivotal kill that gave the Knights match point at 25-24. Moments later, Blake finished it off with an ace for the 26-24 win.

“We can’t even stop her in practice,” Sullivan said. “There’s a big difference, energy and skill-wise when Cece’s not in the game because she’s just a really hard worker who’s always super motivated.”

Bishop Kelly is now one game back of the new conference leader, Kuna, which moved to 5-0 in league play with a sweep of Caldwell Tuesday. So the Knights are in a good position with just a few games left in the regular season to earn a high seed at the District III Tournament — a place that gave them heartbreak a year ago.

The Knights entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed only to be swept by Columbia in the third-place, winner-to-state game. They had beaten the Wildcats three times during the regular season.

It was only the third time since 2009 Bishop Kelly didn’t go to state. Five starters and eight overall returners are back from that team.

“Last season has really stuck with us because it’s basically the same team,” Fitz said. “We were talking even before this game and our coaches asked us, ‘How do you want to end this season?’ We want to end on a good note. We don’t want anything to happen like it happened last year, so we’re more motivated than ever before.”

Audrah Radford had 16 kills, four digs, two aces and one block to lead Nampa in the loss. Ashley Bradbeer added 19 assists and Maddie Ehinger notched eight kills.

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