SACRAMENTO — After stumbling out of the gate Tuesday night, No. 3 Manteca battled back to win the third set and nearly the fourth in a 25-14, 25-18, 21-25, 25-21 win for host second-seeded Christian Brothers in the semifinals of the Sac Joaquin Section Division III volleyball playoffs at Ron Limeburger ’53 Gymnasium.
“We got in a hole that first game,” Buffaloes coach Robin Chandler said. “They really served amazing, especially early on. Once we kind of figured that out we started to get some momentum and that is how we were able to come back in that third game and win. I thought we were going to have that fourth game but it just didn’t happen. But I am proud of the girls. We definitely did good that third and fourth games.
“We have a few things to clean up before NorCals, for sure. Once we get our passing under control is when we can play and when we did they couldn’t really keep up with us. But if we can’t get the pass to the setter we can’t run those faster plays.”
After the first set, Manteca (26-7) stopped the bleeding in the second and came alive in the third with Michaela Singh (six kills, five digs) getting a kill at 18-19 to tie the game and start the Buffaloes on a 7-2 run to end the game.
Manteca’s Karlie Spohn had four of her 15 kills in that pivotal third game.
“We let them get the energy at first,” Spohn said. “And then slowly we came back and we never gave up and we fought all the way to the end.”
One of the things that helped the Falcons (29-5) to the first-set win was hammering out five aces. The Buffaloes’ Abbey Kadillak (13 digs, three aces, three assists) said that Christian Brothers took Manteca out of its game early, but the Buffaloes were able to rebound.
“Their pace is definitely different than ours,” Kadillak said. “We are used to a slower tempo. They are quick to the ball and they serve quick and we really didn’t know what to expect. They came out with a bang and we were caught off guard a little bit.
“After that first game, we picked up on their tendencies a little bit more and in the third game we bounced back, for sure. Once we started to pick up on their tendencies we started to play more of our game.”
The fourth game was a back-and-fourth affair, with nine ties and the last one coming at 17-17. The Falcons eked ahead at that point to a 22-19 lead and there was a delay in the game with confusion at the scorer’s table. After an extended delay, Christian Brothers was awarded an extra point for a supposed scoring error at some point earlier in the match to make the score 23-19. The Buffaloes came within 23-21, but the Falcons got the last to points to take the match 3-1.
Christian Brothers featured a tough front line of Lily Patock (16 kills) and Gillian Hurley (13 kills). The Falcons coasted through their league schedule undefeated, but played a tough non-league schedule.
“We scheduled a really tough pre-season,” Christian Brothers coach James Todd said. “Our league was kind of soft this year but our pre-season and all the tournaments we did prepared us for matches like this.
“That was a good team over there. Manteca played their tails off with good hustle. They did a lot of great things.”
Adrianna Powell tallied 11 kills, eight digs and two aces for Manteca with Arielle Chandler dishing out 36 aces along with four kills and three aces. Ayana Van Staaveren and Isabella Pires both chipped in six digs and an ace with Camrenne Genilla (five kills, four digs, ace) and Courtney Washburn (five kills, three blocks) rounding out the Buffaloes attack.
The Falcons play top-seeded Lincoln of Lincoln on Saturday for the championship and both teams advance to NorCals next Tuesday at 6 p.m. with the pairings to be announced Sunday evening.