Through the first set Monday night, it seemed as though No. 5 Flint Hill wasn’t going to be able to handle senior Taylor Gallart and No. 6 Holy Cross.

Gallart had nine kills in the opening set and four of her team’s final six points in the first set as the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference champion Tartans methodically put away the Huskies, 25-20. From there, it was Independent School League champion Flint Hill that slowly began to chip away, earning the 20-25, 25-16, 25-20, 20-25, 15-5 City Championship victory at Maret by forcing the Tartans (26-2) into enough errors and blocking ferociously at the net.

The win marked the third time in the last four years that Flint Hill (27-2) has won the City Championship, played annually between the champions of the WCAC and ISL. None of this year’s Huskies were starters on the school’s last City Championship in 2010. The win was also Flint Hill’s second against Holy Cross this season after the Huskies beat the Tartans, 2-1, in the Flint Hill Volleyball Invitational in late September.

After dropping the first set, Flint Hill turned up its defense, allowing Gallart just five kills in the second set and just three in the third. The Huskies’ defense was especially dominant to cap off the third set, scoring five of their last nine points on blocks. As a team, the Huskies finished Monday with 181 / 2 blocks, eight of which came from junior Erica Narel.

“Just being focused and being mentally aware of where Taylor was at all times, because they’re a great team,” Flint Hill Coach Carrol Anderson responded when asked about the shift in momentum from the first set. “We started being able to maybe predict where they were going to go a little bit quicker and anticipate things a little bit more. We just made some adjustments and the girls were determined to start getting some touches on their hits.”

In her first game back after suffering a concussion last Thursday, Flint Hill sophomore Ally Ford paced the Huskies offensively with 14 kills and chipped in defensively with 10 digs. Narel added to her impressive defensive effort with eight kills, while sophomore Gracie Anderson added 11 digs. Gallart finished with 25 kills for the Tartans, just two of which came in the final set.

Sparked by a late flurry of kills from Gallart, Holy Cross mounted a rally in the fourth set to turn a 19-19 tie into a 25-20 win. But Flint Hill was dominant in the fifth set, opening with an 8-0 run that finally buried Holy Cross for good.

“I know in our huddle, we were ready to go,” Ford said. “It’s just whoever pushes harder in the first couple of points, because in the fifth set whoever has the run, it’s hard to get that back.”

While Holy Cross’s season ended with the loss, Flint Hill’s will continue Tuesday in the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association tournament with a match against Norfolk Academy.