LARKSPUR -- The Las Lomas High girls volleyball team used 17 aces and a balanced offensive attack to upset top-seed Redwood 25-23, 25-21, 21-25, 23-25, 15-12 on Wednesday in the semifinals of the North Coast Section Division II playoffs.
With the win, the fourth-seeded Knights advanced to Saturday's championship at No. 3 Maria Carrillo and earned a spot in the CIF Northern regional playoffs, which begin next week. Las Lomas (35-7) has never won a section title in girls volleyball.
"After (Las Lomas) won the first two games, I still didn't think we were going to lose," Redwood setter Sierra Dawson said. "I knew this would be tricky, but I thought we were going to have it."
Redwood (32-9) had trouble in several areas of the match. Besides serve-receive, the Giants had eight serves that went wide, long or into the net.
"I just think the unforced errors, the missed serves at the wrong time, the missed pass when it shouldn't happen, the hitting errors -- we just made back-to-back mistakes that cost us the match," Redwood coach Katie Pease said. "We thought we were going to win. ... We didn't take care of our side of the net."
Redwood had early leads in the first two games -- 5-1 in Game 1 and 7-2 in Game 2 -- but the Giants were unable to sustain momentum.
Some of that had to do with Redwood's mistakes, but much of it could also be attributed to Las Lomas' ability to dig the ball and then put the pressure on Redwood with an offense that got 12 kills apiece from Rachel Nieto and Geneva Duffy, 11 from Lauren Fitterer and 10 from Maddie Borch.
Redwood did get it rolling in Game 3 and 4, and with an early 5-2 lead in Game 5, it appeared the Giants might complete the comeback. But Las Lomas worked its way back to a 9-9 tie, then never trailed after a net violation on Redwood gave the Knights a 10-9 lead.
"If you noticed, I was standing up and I very seldom stand," Las Lomas coach Jim Changaris said. "That's how nervous I got. The one thing I was so proud of the girls is that even in Game 1 and 2, we were behind, but we rallied. And in the fifth game, they jumped on us and we came back. That shows so much."
"When the fifth game came around, we were like, 'We're so close, we know we can do this,'" Las Lomas captain Rachel Linden said. "We wanted it so bad. ... It would have been cool if we had won in three because Redwood's a good team and we could have said, 'Wow, we beat Redwood in three.' But five takes so much emotional strength and you have to be mentally tough, so I'm happy with the result."