It was “Dig Pink” night at Christopher High for the anticipated volleyball showdown between the top two teams in the Santa Teresa East Division.
In the second set, the Cougars took a big “dig deep for a big dig” to rally to a dramatic come-from-behind win, carrying the momentum from there for a victory in three sets (25-18, 26-24, 25-15) over Live Oak High in Blossom Valley Athletic League action Oct. 3.
“My adrenaline is so high to see our hard work pay off,” Christopher libero Nathalia Javier said. “We did a really good job of putting it together.”
The win improved Christopher’s record to 5-0 in league play and the team currently owns a 9-7 overall record, while the Acorns slipped to 4-1 in league and 8-4 overall as of Oct. 10.
“We came in knowing we were tied for first,” Christopher setter Maddie Pierson said. “We had to step up our game. We had to step it up defensively and work on our consistency.”
Christopher rocketed out to a big first-set lead and won comfortably. In the second set, three Live Oak aces from freshman Brooke Ledwith put the Acorns on top 15-11.
At that point, the play of the night occurred.
In what appeared to be a Live Oak kill to extend the lead, Javier made a superb saving lunge on the second ball. Pierson followed with an athletic reach to hit the ball over the net and keep the point alive.
Christopher later won the point, as the Cougar side of the 150 fans roared loudly.
“That was definitely the momentum changer,” Pierson said.
Christopher followed with a seven-point serving run from Hannah McGhie, which included an incredible five aces. The Cougars were now on top 19-15, but more twists and turns remained.
Christopher appeared to have the set in hand, but a 23-18 lead melted away as Live Oak showed its resiliency.
In a six-point run, sophomore Olivia Mixco served two aces and both Ledwith and senior Anna Guenet put down kills. The Acorns were on top 24-23 and had a set point to even the contest at a set apiece.
The Cougars rebounded. McGhie ripped a kill, Live Oak made an error and Grace Wilson served an ace for a 26-24 win.
Instead of being knotted up 1-1, the tally was 2-0 Cougars and they rolled home from there. Christopher bolted out to an 8-2 lead in the third set and was not threatened thereafter.
“The key is being consistent,” Pierson said. “And communication. Our defense was phenomenal. Nathalie [Javier] back there, and Hannah [McGhie].”
Also shining on the night was the Christopher middle attack, featuring freshman Maddie Ridgway, and Wilson. The offense featured hard hits from sophomore Finley Corona, Faith Zermeno, Virginia Hatch and McGhie.
Though it wasn’t Live Oak’s night, the Acorns looked strong most of the way. Senior setter Maya Rafat coordinated the offense of Guenet and senior Ana Saulala. Chiara Rocchio, a senior, spearheaded the defense. Ledwith, senior Mara DiFrancesco and Mixco delivered up front.
But it was a pink night and a Christopher teal night.
“Maddie is a freshman and still has a lot of room for growth and development,” Christopher head coach Marcus Torres said. “And Grace’s serves were next level. She put us on that five to six point run. Maddie is the heart of the team. She wants it so bad. She has the competitive edge, and pulls the best out of everybody.”
Torres cited the Cougars’ growth from the previous game. In a road contest against Santa Teresa, the Saints won the first two sets.
“The energy was down,” Torres said. “We had a team talk. We came back and won three sets in a row.”
Christopher was victorious in five sets (17-25, 25-27, 25-15, 26-24, 15-10) and continued to roll with a sweep of Live Oak on Dig Pink night.
After their recent battle, both the Cougars and Acorns moved forward.
Christopher capped off the week with a sweep against Hill High. Live Oak rebounded to belt Santa Teresa in three sets (25-5, 25-21, 28-26) to keep the Acorns just one game behind in the Santa Teresa East Division standings.
Both teams are looking forward to the rematch at Live Oak High on Oct. 19 at 7pm.