Woodside had to get to the playoffs to catch a breather.
After going the five-set distance in each of its final two regular-season matches, Woodside cruised to victory in the Central Coast Section Div. II opener yesterday, sweeping No. 12-seed Branham — 25-7, 25-17, 25-10.
The No. 6-seed Wildcats came out firing seven aces in the first set and didn’t look back, never trailing throughout the entirety of the match.
“I would have been a little upset if we would have taken more than three sets (to win it),” Woodside head coach Kyle Mashima said. “We knew the ranking of the team coming in. We expected them to be no better than the lower half of our league, and we went 3-0 with all those teams. Our expectation was we should be able to handle it.”
Woodside now advances to quarterfinal play Saturday, traveling to No. 3-seed St. Francis at 7 p.m.
Christine Alftin looks poised to take on her former school. The Woodside senior transferred from St. Francis after her sophomore season, and has yet to get the better of them. The Lancers not only eliminated Woodside in the CCS opener last season, they also swept the Wildcats in this season’s non-league opener.
If yesterday is any indication though, Alftin is one who thrives on the pressure. The senior had quite a busy day yesterday, as Woodside held a lunchtime ceremony to honor its volleyball star as she officially signed a letter of intent to play at Cal next season. Come game time though, it was business as usual for the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division MVP.
“She’s ready to go,” Mashima said. “She’s ready to finish it off. We’ve got St. Francis on Saturday, so she’s got her prior home team to think about. So, she’s got a lot riding on it to get there.”
Alftin and company came out blazing yesterday, as senior hitter Dani Walsh started the match with four straight service points to spark a lopsided win in Game 1. Alftin also contributed seven straight service points, including five aces.
“We knew [Alftin] was one of the top hitters around, so we just tried to stay on top of her,” Branham fifth-year head coach Heather Cooper said. “But she’s phenomenal.”
In Game 2, Haili and Heilani Hoeft got in sync to show off their patented sister act at net. Heilani tabbed four of her eight match kills in the set, with Haili seamlessly setting almost all of them.
“We grew up in the same room, eating the same food, wearing the same clothes,” Heilani Hoeft said. “So we’re basically the same person.”
In Game 3, Alftin mopped up with five of her match-high 13 kills, including the game winner. Alftin admitted earlier in the week that she was looking ahead to Woodside’s clash with St. Francis. But now the competition looks to be stacking up in hurry, as St. Francis is the first big hurdle to clear en route to a possible matchup with No. 2-seed Los Altos in the semifinals, and a projected championship appearance by No. 1-seed Archbishop Mitty.
“If we played like we played against M-A, where we blocked really well and we played tremendous defense, we have shot at taking the (St. Francis) game,” Mashima said. “So, we just have to be tight and we have to be on it. If we have a crisp game there, then it will be very, very competitive.”