When Campolindo High girls volleyball coaches John Vuong and Dave Chen named seniors Annie Shurtz, Sophie Seiberth and Cassidy Abel as tri-captains, they knew what they were doing.
Thanks in large part to the three seniors, the top-seeded Cougars are going to play for the Division III Northern California championship on Tuesday after a 25-19, 22-25, 25-20, 25-22 win on Saturday over No. 5 Sacred Heart Cathedral-San Francisco. The winner of that match will play for the Division III state title on Dec. 1.
Shurtz, Seiberth and Abel were on the Cougars' 2010 state championship squad. On Saturday, Abel had 26 digs, Seiberth had 50 assists, and Shurtz had 29 kills helped host Campolindo (29-4) stay alive for a third state title in seven years.
"We're having so much fun," Seiberth said. "This is all we've worked for all season, and we are proving we can keep pushing and anything is possible. We're counting our blessings that we get to practice for one more day."
Another big reason why Campolindo got past the Fighting Irish (31-10) was the performance of its the role players.
The serving of Rachel Hua, Maddie Browning, Annie Doyle and Natalie Meniktas, and contributions at the net from Abbey Healey, Kelley Wirth, Kirsten Sibley and Gaby Gryko (combined 25 kills) allowed the Cougars to face No. 2 Valley Christian-San Jose on Tuesday.
"There's no one person that a team can focus on," Seiberth said. "Everybody can contribute and we
Valley Christian-San Jose d. Bishop O'Dowd: Nothing went easy for the Dragons, as the host Warriors played near perfect defense in dispatching visiting Bishop O'Dowd 25-16, 22-25, 25-12, 25-18 in a Division III NorCal playoff.
With the win, Central Coast Section champion Valley Christian (35-8) advances to Tuesday's NorCal championship match against Campolindo.
The No. 2 seeded Warriors are ranked third in the state in Division III behind just behind Campolindo and Cathedral Catholic-San Diego, and they got there by playing defense.
"It's really an accomplishment for us," Valley Christian coach Sheri Hess said of her team's water tight defense, "Being a tall, gangly team, for us to also be a passing a defense team -- that's what we work for since August 1. As talented as these girls are offensively, if we pass and play defense the talent can get us there."
The Warriors leaned heavily on their pair of junior setters/outside hitters Kirsten Nead and Maddie Dilfer for stability and guidance.
The two spent quite a bit of time feeding each other balls to great effect. Dilfer finished with a match 13 kills along with 18 digs, 62 assists and three aces.
Nead notched 12 kills, 58 assists, 11 digs. Senior outside hitter Grace Chang 9 kills and 23 digs.
The Dragons (30-8) tried to feed sophomore sensation outside hitter Brianna Karsseboom as much as possible, but time and again the Warriors denied the big hitter. Karsseboom finished with a team-high 10 kills.
"She continues to impress," said Bishop O'Dowd coach Chad Salcido of Karsseboom, "she's fun to watch, people plan to stop her, but she still finds a way."
-- Bill Kolb, correspondent
Archbishop Mitty-San Jose d. Las Lomas: Host and No. 1 seed Archbishop Mitty continued its unbeaten season with a 25-13, 25-23, 25-14 sweep of Las Lomas in a Northern Callifornia Division II semifinal. The Monarchs improved to 36-0 behind 14 kills from Clare Powers and 10 from Allie Wheeler.
Monarchs setter Kelsey Crawford contributed 31 assists, and libero Anne Marie Schmidt led the defense with 17 digs.
Fourth-seeded Las Lomas completed a landmark season at 37-8. The Knights, led by middle blocker Maddie Borch with nine kills and Geneva Duffy with six kills, won their first-ever NCS crown, garnered their first-ever NorCal victory and surpassed the previous school record for wins by 11.
"Our girls played real well, but we've never faced someone like that," Las Lomas coach Jim Changaris said. "They were excellent servers, and it took us out of our rhythm. When we got the pass, we had a high percentage of hits that went down. But it was a great season. I am so proud of what these 14 girls have accomplished."
-- Gordon Kass, correspondent
Dublin 75, Freedom 63: Joe McGlaston scored 31 points and added nine rebounds to lead the Gaels (1-0) past the Falcons in the opener at the NorCal Tip-Off Classic. Eric Nielsen added 10 points and 10 rebounds for Dublin, which took a 39-32 lead at halftime. Elliot Smith had 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead Freedom (0-1).