Terra Nova is a win away from punching its ticket to the Central Coast Section playoffs for the first time in four years.
The Tigers (12-1 Ocean Division, 19-2 overall) kept their perfect second-half record in tact yesterday by downing El Camino (2-11, 4-12) in four sets – 25-23, 25-15, 15-25, 25-20.
With one game remaining in the regular season, Terra Nova is tied atop the Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division with Sequoia. If, after Thursday’s season finale, the two teams finish tied for the top spot, they will share a co-championship. However, Terra Nova would receive the Ocean Division’s one guaranteed automatic CCS bid by virtue of heads-up set play. Terra Nova has taken four sets from its fellow division front-runner this season, having dropped a Sept. 24 matchup 3-1, before sweeping the Cherokees 3-0 Oct. 17.
Terra Nova isn’t taking its good standing for granted. Assistant coach Kari Trainor knows anything can happen in Thursday’s season finale at Half Moon Bay, especially since the Tigers will go into the contest without sophomore libero Katie McKay.
McKay sprained her ankle in practice last week. The Tigers are hoping she will be ready to take the court next week for the CCS opener Nov. 13.
“She’s out for Thursday’s game,” Trainor said. “Obviously, we hope to have her back, because it’s single-elimination if we make it to CCS. She’s an important dynamic for us.”
McKay’s replacement, sophomore Kristiana Wolf-Blake, put forth a strong all-around effort yesterday. She got off to an ambitious start, tabbing four kills in the opening set. However, she soon backed off to leave the kill shots to Terra Nova’s heavy hitters, and quickly dialed it in on defense.
Terra Nova’s heavy-hitting junior tandem of Ali Vidali and Anna Listmann soldiered through a disjointed team effort. Vidali tabbed a match-high 19 kills, while Listmann totaled 17 kills. The two were actually dead even in the kills department after three sets, until Vidali emerged with seven kills in the decisive Game 4.
“Ali is always strong and aggressive,” Trainor said. “She’s our go-to girl.”
Terra Nova seemed to be on cruise control in Game 1, but let a 21-16 lead slip away after El Camino senior Caitlyn Ladigan stepped to the service line. Ladigan went on a five-point service run, giving her Colts the lead with back-to-back aces. Listmann staved off an upset by retying the match at 22-22 with a clutch kill, before Terra Nova won the seesaw race to 25.
The Tigers committed 10 of their 34 match errors in Game 1.
“[El Camino was] kind of scrappy and sent the ball back, and let us make the mistakes” Trainor said.
Vidali showed off her serving prowess in Game 2, going on a five-point run, including three consecutive aces, to give Terra Nova an insurmountable lead.
In Game 3, El Camino answered back when senior Geli Maurille got cooking. The fourth-year varsity senior tallied five of her 13 match kills in the set, and proved once again to be one of the hardest hitters in the Ocean Division this season.
El Camino head coach Brittany Formalejo said it has been fun watching Maurille earn the respect of opposing teams because of the sheer velocity with which she hits.
“She’s a great player,” Formalejo said. “She’s one of my captains, she has great heart, and she definitely loves the game…. Every game we go into, the other team gets into this shock-face, like: Who is this girl?”
At 5-foot-3, Maurille is an unconventional hitter. But she has stepped up to do whatever has been asked of her to help her struggling team. According to Formalejo, her star senior does a little bit of everything. That’s a stark contrast from her role with her club team, the Frisco Bay, where Maurille is strictly a libero.
Having won jut four games this season, El Camino looked at it as a moral victory to take one set from Terra Nova.
“They’re a decent team,” Formalejo said. “I didn’t even go into this thinking we’d win a set. So, I’m glad to see my girls play so well against them.”
Terra Nova last advanced to CCS play in 2009. The Tigers have not won a CCS match since 1983, when they captured the Div. II crown with a win in the championship round over Salinas.
Other Ocean results
Sequoia (12-1, 24-7) swept Mills – 25-14, 25-21, 25-19. Sequoia Joy Robinson had 16 kills, 11 digs, and three aces. Rachel Fink had eight kills and 28 digs. Mills senior Adrienne Lee tallied 10 kills.
Westmoor (9-4, 19-16) downed Half Moon Bay – 25-15, 25-12, 25-22.
Capuchino defeated Jefferson – 23-25, 25-18, 25-18, 25-22.
Bay Division results
Woodside (12-1, 20-11) triumphed over Burlingame in five sets – 25-23, 20-25, 25-23, 16-25, 15-13. Burlingame’s Morgan McKeever had 15 kills.
Carlmont (10-3, 20-10) swept San Mateo – 25-8, 25-15, 25-18. Carlmont sophomore Mia Hogan notched a career-high 10 kills, while junior Lauren Tierney had 14 assists.
Menlo-Atherton (11-2, 20-8) downed Aragon – 25-18, 25-15, 25-13.