For the second time in two days, the Calaveras High School volleyball team won a home playoff game by a score of 3-0. However, Thursday night’s win was much more earned than Tuesday’s sweep of No. 14 Orestimba.
With not only section championship dreams still on the line, but clinching a spot in the CIF State Tournament, No. 3 Calaveras took care of business and knocked off No. 6 Woodland Christian in three sets (25-20, 25-16, 25-23) Thursday night at Mike Flock Gym in San Andreas.
Although Calaveras won each set, that didn’t come without having to battle for many of the points. In the third set, Calaveras trailed late by four points, but was able to mount a comeback for the win. For Calaveras head coach Mike Koepp, beating No. 6 Woodland Christian felt much more satisfying than the win over No. 14 Orestimba.
“I felt like we were tough tonight,” Koepp said. “When it came down to tough points in tough situations, I think that we stepped up.”
Calaveras is now just one game away from playing for a section title, but regardless of what happens in the rest of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs, Calaveras will play once the state tournament begins, which junior Jenna Brotherton feels is a major accomplishment.
“It’s been a high school dream of mine to make it to the state tournament,” she said.
The night couldn't have started any better for Calaveras. Junior Ava Saiers served to begin the game and she didn’t stop serving until Calaveras had a 5-0 lead. During that run, Saiers had three straight aces.
“That set the tone and the tempo for the game,” Koepp said.
Woodland Christian recorded a point, but Calaveras responded by going on a 6-0 run that featured two kills by Brotherton. Calaveras built an 11-1 lead, but Woodland Christian responded with a run of its own and cut the deficit to 13-10.
Calaveras had built up its lead again and after a kill from junior LoLo Wyllie and a Woodland Christian hit out of bounds, led 17-13. But again, the visitors mounted a comeback and tied the set 17-17.
“We just started breaking down,” Saiers said of allowing Woodland Christian back into the set. “Of course it’s frustrating, but with every point you need to reset and just get rid of the frustration or else it’s just going to get even worse.”
Although the set was tied, Calaveras never surrendered the lead. Sophomore Karah Auld and Brotherton recorded kills, senior Muriel Strange had a block for a point and Saiers served up an ace, which helped Calaveras take the first set 25-20.
Leading 1-0, Calaveras seemed to have no problem with Woodland Christian in the second set. Early on, Calaveras got kills from junior Kyllie Remus, Saiers and Auld, along with aces from Auld, Saiers and senior Samantha Gleason. Auld recorded a powerful kill for the 25th point and Calaveras took the second set 25-16.
With only one set needed for a victory, Woodland Christian made sure it wouldn't be easy for Calaveras to pick up the win. Trailing 8-4, Woodland Christian went on to outscore Calaveras 11-3 to take a 15-11 lead. Calaveras played from behind for much of the third set, which includes a three-point, 21-18 deficit.
“It’s always so much better to play a team who is going to challenge you, then a team who is just going to let you win,” Saiers said.
After a Woodland Christian attack went out of bounds, Calaveras got a kill from Remus and back-to-back kills from Saiers to take a 22-21 lead. Once Calaveras went ahead, it never trailed again and won the third and final set 25-23.
“It was pretty nerve wracking, but we knew that we could pull it together,” Brotherton said about trailing late in the third set.
Brotherton had a team-high 10 kills; Saiers had six kills, six aces and 11 assists; Auld had six kills; senior co-captain Keelie Koepp had 25 serve receptions and 18 digs; Strange had five blocks; and Remus had 11 assists in the win.
Up next for No. 3 Calaveras is No. 2 Escalon, who defeated No. 15 Marysville 3-1 on Tuesday night and followed that with a 3-0 win Thursday night over No. 7 West Campus. Escalon finished the 2019 regular season 27-9, while going 9-3 in the Trans Valley League. Calaveras and Escalon faced one another in the 2019 foundation game, which Escalon won. Since 2006, Escalon leads the head-to-head series with Calaveras 11-1.
“One of our things that we talk about all the time is to just be us,” Koepp said. “The good thing about high school sports is that it’s a new group all the time. We’ve played at Escalon already this year, so we know the feel of that gym. I think that we are a better team than we were before. Now, we just need to take care of business.”
Calaveras and Escalon will play at 7 p.m., Tuesday Nov. 5, with the winner playing for the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship on Saturday, Nov. 9.