Published November 14th, 2018
Girls volleyball playoffs
By Jon Kingdon
Madi Risch Photos Gint Federas
Once again it has proved to be a successful season for the Lamorinda girls volleyball teams.
Acalanes raised their record from 13-16 last season to 17-14 this year. Making the NCS playoffs, Acalanes could lay claim to the dubious distinction of having to make the longest and shortest road trips during the playoffs. Due to a fluke rule regarding Eureka High School winning a conference championship, the third seeded Dons were forced to drive 250 miles each way to play their first-round match, much to the chagrin of coach Ernie Rodriguez: "The game was scheduled to be played at 7 p.m. and they wouldn't move the game up an hour as we requested." What added to the frustration was how it was observed that "we could have beaten them with our J.V. team."
After a five-set victory over San Marin, Acalanes made the much shorter four-mile road trip to play Miramonte in the semifinals in a truly memorable match. The Dons won the first two sets (25-18, 25-13). The Dons offense has been led by Madi Risch, Kennedy Cornish and Elsa Clever. Setter Lane Webster and libero Cailey McVay both contributed with numerous digs and assists. With Miramonte winning the next two games by identical 25-23 scores, Miramonte won the final game by a 15-7 score.
Acalanes still qualified for the CIF State Championships and took another long drive to Sacramento to play Christian Brothers. Once again, the Dons jumped out to a 2-0 lead but were unable to handle prosperity, losing their next three games (25-22, 25-22, 21-25, 18-25, 13-15).
Campolindo concluded their season with a 27-9 record. The Cougars made it to the championship game in the NCS, coming up short against Bishop O'Dowd. Still Campolindo went to the Division I state championship as the No. 3 seed. After a five-set victory over Menlo School (25-13, 20-25, 25-16, 18-25, 15-8), Campolindo was supposed to play St. Francis (Sacramento) at home. Due to the air quality or lack thereof, the game was moved to Sacramento much to the chagrin of Campolindo. The change certainly worked against the Cougars, who had a 9-1 home record this season. In close matches, there is always a home court advantage which helped St. Francis and they defeated Campolindo in five sets (25-13, 20-25, 25-16, 18-25, 15-8).
With only three seniors on the team, Vuong observed that "we're a young team. We played well to this point and we will continue to improve."
After defeating Rancho Cotate, San Francis Drake and Acalanes, Miramonte met Marin Catholic in the division III championship game going down to defeat in three games.
Miramonte (18-11) was seeded 10th in the state tournament and traveled to Mountain View for their first match, coming up with another five-set victory (17-25, 22-25, 25-22, 25-21, 17-15).
Like Acalanes and Campolindo, Miramonte was forced to make a long road trip, traveling 133 miles to Grass Valley to take on the second seeded Nevada Union. Once again, the Matadors returned with another five-set victory over a higher seeded team (21-25, 25-21, 25-21, 23-25, 17-15). Head coach David Chao's strategy was to keep the team focused on each game: "We kept reminding the girls that every game is a new game so you don't have to be nervous."
As usual, the offense was been led by Jennifer Giron, Meaghan Hohman and Kaylyn Goode. Chao cited two sophomores on the front row that really stepped up to help the defense, Caitlin Dolorico-McPeake and Nikki Lynch. Chao particularly cited the play of Lynch: "Nikki came here with absolutely zero experience in volleyball. She came here from the Czech Republic where she was a top goalie in field hockey for the Czech team."
With a new system to learn and five senior starters on the team, the team has shown some inconsistency in their play through the season which led to a lower seed in the state championship despite having defeated Del Oro and Pleasant Valley in the regular season, two teams that were given higher seeds. Says Chao: "We were mis-seeded but with the tenth seed, the other teams may have gotten overconfident with our lower seed."
Despite the air quality issues, last Saturday Miramonte was one of the few schools that did not have their game postponed and they played their quarterfinal game at Head Royce. For the third straight match, the Matadors played a five-set match but came up short to the sixth ranked Head Royce (22-25, 25-18, 25-19, 25-22, 15-12).

Jennifer Giron

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