Talk about a sweet victory. Mountain View boys volleyball coach M. Anthony Chen passed out candy to the Spartans' rowdy cheering section before Game 3 of the Northern California Division I semifinal Thursday night against Del Oro-Loomis.
The top-seeded Spartans completed the tasty sweep of the Golden Eagles 25-19, 27-25, 25-23 to advance to the final Saturday.
Mountain View (33-3) will meet St. Francis (29-6) at Dublin High at 7:30 p.m. in an all-Mountain View regional championship. It will be a rematch of the Central Coast Section final, which went five long sets before the Spartans prevailed.
"We feel fortunate to be in this position," Chen said. "This was a goal since last year. It's humbling, but we're excited to be going."
The Spartans had a gutsy rally in Game 2, coming back from a 23-18 deficit to win the set. Del Oro (19-14) had a 22-18 advantage in Game 3, but Mountain View turned it on to avoid a Game 4. Del Oro had a 6-foot-8 middle blocker in Connor Drake, who had 11 kills. Drake will play at UC Santa Barbara.
"It's the Final Four and everything is earned," Chen said. "They won their section. That says a lot."
Del Oro coach Levi Oates said his team did not play well.
"We didn't pass the ball," he said. "Mountain View has tough servers. Second and third games, we had leads after 20. We got conservative, and Mountain View stayed aggressive."
The Spartans had a tremendous match from outside hitter Jake Stuebner, who had a match-high 14 kills. With the Spartans trailing 22-20 in Game 3, Stuebner contorted his body for a tough save, keeping a rally alive. Stuebner's hit deep was ruled in, giving the important point to the Spartans.
Stuebner's searing kill gave Mountain View a 24-23 edge before a long hit by Del Oro ended the match.
"That felt pretty good," Stuebner said. "The match was exciting. It was fun. Some of us had an off night, but everyone picked each other up."
St. Francis wins
St. Francis will get one more shot at neighborhood rival Mountain View after sweeping Deer Valley in the semifinal round of the Northern California Division I boys volleyball playoffs.
"We're about a mile apart, and we've played them in Santa Barbara, and we've played them in San Jose. Now we're going to play them in Dublin," Lancers coach Michael Rubin said after the 25-22, 25-17, 25-18 victory.
It will be the Lancers' fourth shot at Mountain View after falling in five sets in the Central Coast Section final last week.
Matthew Larson's scoring block ended the first set, which marked the first time Deer Valley (40-3) had lost a set since a 2-1 loss to Clovis on April 26. It was the third scoring block of the set for Larson, who also had four kills. Steven Dineen had six of his match-high 15 kills in the first set for St. Francis (33-3).
"We played a team that clearly was the best team that we've played, and they made us look less skilled than we are," Deer Valley coach Lou Panzella said. "They made us look bad."
The Wolverines got 14 kills from Jordan Ewert, who Rubin said was Deer Valley's one known commodity. Bezhan Wahidi added 11 kills but the Wolverines could not get the same level of support that Dineen and Larson had.
Alexander Jimenez came off the bench and dropped down seven kills, and Cooper Diamond added six kills and four scoring blocks.
Deer Valley got within 20-19 in the second set when Jacob Brannon served up a couple of points, but the St. Francis front wall of Dineen, Larson and Cooper Diamond did not allow another offensive point in the set. An ace by Ewert, a kill from Wahidi and Brannon's block got the Wolverines to within 15-14 in the third set but the Lancers again shut the offense down the rest of the way.
-- STEVE DULAS, CORRESPONDENT