Homestead is a team on a roll. Yet another instance of that occurred at the Homestead gym Tuesday where the Mustangs had little difficulty in dispatching North Coast Section runnerup Heritage in three sets, 25-22, 25-16, 25-21, in the Northern California Division I volleyball quarterfinals
"We took care of business,'' Homestead coach Gary Carroll said. "We're rolling.''
The Mustangs didn't really get it going early in the season, but they have made up for it down the stretch, catching fire to come from behind and win the SCVAL De Anza Division title, then romping through the Central Coast Section playoffs to win the Division I crown. The win over Heritage was the team's 17th in a row.
"Our team unity is just so good. We genuinely love playing together,'' said senior outside hitter Morgan Robinson, who had 13 kills and nine digs. "Our goal at the start of the season was to win CCS. Since we've already done that we hope to go down to Southern California and hopefully win state.''
She won't get any argument from Heritage.
"They are some amazing hitters,'' Heritage coach Janet Hannigan said.
The No. 3 seed Mustangs will play at No. 2 St. Francis of Sacramento, a 3-0 winner over Lowell, on Saturday in the NorCal semifinals.
The last lead Heritage had in each of the first sets was at 2-1. The Patriots had an 11-9 lead in the third set before Homestead took charge.
Homestead (27-7) used its height to great advantage at the net, both offensively and defensively. Carroll rotated five players, all between 5-foot-11 and 6-1, at his four hitting spots.
"We have power from every position,'' Carroll said. "We have four great hitters.''
But the player who has made the biggest difference this season is setter Maria Balus, a transfer from Monta Vista. She had 34 assists against Heritage, but did more than just set up other players, getting some important kills of her own.
"She's still learning,'' Carroll said of Balus. "The switch from basketball to volleyball was recent for her. She's still got an upside.''
Casey Carroll paced Homestead with 15 kills and nine digs.
Palo Alto 3, San Ramon Valley 2: Down two sets on the road against a confident section champion, Palo Alto did something pretty special on Tuesday night.
The No. 4-seeded Vikings overtook a stunned No. 5 San Ramon Valley 20-25, 23-25, 25-22, 25-22, 15-7.
Palo Alto (25-10) will travel to No. 1 seed Granite Bay (42-0) in Saturday's regional semifinals.
The Vikings turned the tables on the Wolves, who won the North Coast Section title, with strong net play and improved confidence after a nervous start. Senior outside hitter Becca Raffel hit a kill, her 17th of the match, to end the fifth set, off an assist from freshman Jessica Lee.
"I think after we were down two games we realized that this could be our last game, so we were just going to give it everything we could," Raffel said. "I'm really proud of the way we were able to give it everything and come back."
The big comeback was something new for Paly.
"I'm real proud of my team," Paly coach Dave Winn said. "We haven't done that all year. We haven't been able to come back from 0-2, and to do it on one of the biggest stages against a quality team like San Ramon that is well-coached, I couldn't be prouder."
San Ramon Valley standout Katherine Claybaugh, a sophomore outside, had 21 kills and 20 digs and fellow 10th-grader Milla Anderson had 21 kills and 26 digs.
The Vikings emerged from a 7-3 deficit in the third set as Raffel, Jade Schoenberger and Lauren Kerr began to assert themselves.
"I thought we had our chances to win that match, for sure, and either the moment got the better of us, or Palo Alto turned out some fantastic defensive play," San Ramon Valley coach Brian Fujinaga said. "Palo Alto is very well coached. I have the utmost respect for Dave Winn, and I think it showed at the end. They were well-prepared for us tonight."
-- Matt Schwab
No. 3 seed Los Altos kept its season alive with a 25-18, 27-25, 25-16 win at No. 6 Pleasant Valley.
"Honestly, we didn't come out and play very clean volleyball. But we did enough to win," Los Altos coach Peter Kim said. "I think the long drive affected us. Pretty much the girls were on the bus all day, so I think the bus drive brought us in pretty flat."
The Eagles (33-6), the runner-up in the Central Coast Section, got 13 kills from 6-foot-2 junior outside hitter Carmen Annevelink.
"The main thing is that we're on to the next match and our season is still going," Kim said.
Next up is a trip to Larkspur on Saturday for a semifinal against No. 2 Redwood (41-5), champion of the North Coast Section.
No. 1 seeded Menlo School had an easy time of it in a 25-11, 25-16, 25-12 win over eighth-seeded Willows. Menlo (30-5) hosts No. 5 Hilmar (38-8) in a semifinal match on Saturday at 7 p.m.
"It's nice to move on and keep playing on Saturday," Menlo coach Steve Cavella said. "Everyone who was on the court did a good job.''
The Honkers (30-7), the Northern Section runnerup, had 6-3 leads in Games 1 and 3, making the final margins a bit deceptive. Melissa Cairo took the service line in the first set, triggering the taller Knights to a 16-9 advantage. During the run, Lida Vandermeer had one of her 13 kills in front of an ace by Cairo, Payton Mack's tap at the net and setter Elisa Merten's assist to Vandermeer for a kill completed the run.
Cairo had nine aces and 16 digs from her libero position.
"Nine aces are a lot of aces for anybody," said Cavella of Cairo. "She had a nice match. She played good defense and served well. She has done that all year."
Merten had 20 assists and Maddie Huber had 12 digs.
-- John Reid
No. 5 Priory (16-13) lost to No. 4 Bradshaw Christian 21-25, 25-23, 26-24, 22-25, 15-13.
Outside hitter Marine Hall-Poirier had 27 kills, 25 digs and five aces for the Panthers. Libero Michaela Koval had 33 digs and middle blocker Anna Brett had 10 kills.