Carlmont's Ella McDonough had a 70-kill week for the Scots
Every great volleyball team has a “go-to” player. And with the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division being an all-out war every single game, these players must come up huge for their squads on a consistent basis.
After all, that’s what makes them great.
Over in Belmont, Carlmont has enjoyed the luxury of Ella McDonough for some time now and in this, her senior season as the go-to Scot, it appears No. 10 is putting the team on her shoulders and carrying the load like many blue and white greats have before her.
“She’s really grown into that role this year of being ‘the man’ for the team,” said Carlmont head coach Chris Crader. “It’s like in basketball. It’s one thing to score a lot of points and another to want the ball and score with the game on the line. Ella is comfortable in big situations and that gives your team a lot of confidence. The whole team believes she’s going to score.”
Last week was a prime example of what McDonough brings to the Carlmont attack and defense in what was a six-match week for the Scots. McDonough was the team leader in kills for all six of those matches, a stretch of volleyball when Carlmont went 4-2, including a big bounce-back victory against San Mateo in Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division play — two days after a five-set thriller found the Scots on the losing end.
In all, the Carlmont outside hitter and its biggest weapon racked up 70 kills for an average of 11.4 a match.
“She’s hitting the ball really well all year long,” Crader said. “And I guess that’s all been a part of the plan — to have her take as many swings as possible [and] lead us in kills. And she’s been stepping up day after day after day.”
And so today, it’s for her efforts that McDonough is the San Mateo Daily Journal Athlete of the Week.
The week began with an inspired effort by McDonough in a huge PAL showdown with division-leading Menlo-Atherton. In what turned out to be a five-set battle in favor of the Bears, McDonough shined and led an overall great effort for the Scots. She recorded 21 kills in that match to complement Amelia Tupou and her 21 assists.
The loss was disappointing and it dropped the Scots into a packed center of great PAL talent trying to now catch up with Menlo-Atherton. But Carlmont did not dwell on the loss very long.
In Thursday’s match against San Mateo, the outside hitter recorded 12 kills and hit .450 from the field in what was a smooth three-set victory for Carlmont.
“The PAL is the best it’s ever been,” Crader said. “In terms of quality and depth, it’s the best it’s ever been. There are a lot of great outside hitters and for us to compete, we’re going to need our outside hitters to play great, too. Ella has been a great leader for us and she really helps the younger players get better.”
The win was great momentum for the Scots, who then went on to play at the 12-team Mountain View-Los Altos tournament where, after saving three match points in a semifinal win against Burlingame, they went on to fall to host Los Altos and take a second-place trophy back home.
McDonough led the Scots in kills during all four of their matches.
She recorded seven in an intra-district affair with Sequoia that was over in two sets.
Then, against Harker, the Scots rallied from one set down to win the match. McDonough had 12 kills and two blocks.
In that semifinal battle against fellow PAL member Burlingame, Carlmont saved three match points, rallying from deficits of 8-13 and 11-14 in the final set to beat the Panthers for the second time in 11 days. McDonough had nine kills, four digs and two aces.
But, the emotion of that semifinal proved too much for Carlmont in the final, where they lost to Los Altos in two sets. Still, McDonough showed her consistency, finishing the match with nine kills.
“She’s really taken her play to another level this year,” Crader said. “And we’re really going to need that.”