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Cardinals conquered

SCCS volleyball sees its run end in Division V-AA semis

Posted: November 18, 2008 10:07 p.m.
Updated: November 19, 2008 4:55 a.m.

Cardinals Karla Eberlein (24) spikes the ball as Coastal Christian's Kaitlynd Carroll (8) and Marcia Simenz (3) attempt to block in Tuesday's home loss.

Playing against a girls volleyball team that has lost only twice all season is tough enough.

Combine that with making several hitting, passing, setting and serving errors and it's improbable for many teams to come out with a win.

Santa Clarita Christian did just that Tuesday in losing at home to Coastal Christian in three sets, 25-14, 25-19, 25-19 in the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division V-AA Girls Volleyball Playoffs.

It was the first time the Heritage League champions reached a CIF semifinals since 2002.

SCCS (19-11-1) played well at times, especially in the third game, but the Cardinals' comeback attempt from an 18-10 deficit to at least prevent a sweep fell short.

"We had a great season," said Santa Clarita Christian head coach Darcy Brown. "Mentally, I thought our girls weren't there tonight. (Coastal Christian) gave us a run for our money. We'd make little mistakes and they'd make their runs."

The Cardinals could not overcome the presence of 5-foot-11 middle blocker Kaitlyn Henry, who finished with 12 kills and three blocks.

More importantly, Henry and her Conqueror teammates altered several of Santa Clarita Christian's hitters, who tapped two-handed touches instead of taking one-handed whacks.

"I wish we would've attacked more," Brown said. "We resorted to tipping because of their blockers. When we let them run the show, that's when we'd get in trouble."

Santa Clarita Christian came out strong in an intense first game that was as close as 8-7.

Cardinal outside hitter Kristina Gibson, who was one of five seniors on the team, smashed four of her seven kills in the early frame.

But five blocks, combined with the Cardinals' passing mistakes that led to poor sets, helped the Conquerors (20-2) take an 18-9 lead.

Henry's five kills in the set put Coastal Christian up 1-0 in the match.

"I think we had an off-match," Gibson said. "We didn't get a chance to show them who we really are. I think our energy level was up, we were aggressive and we slowly faded away."

Santa Clarita began to fade in the second game, trailing early 8-1. Cardinal senior middle blocker Kaley Morrison and other hitters were constantly blocked by Henry.

Digging was also a big issue, with some of the Conquerors' softer hits landing for points.

Gibson put away two kills in a row to make it 12-4. But a 12-3 run by Coastal Christian put it ahead 24-8.

Meanwhile, Coastal Christian got to nearly every single reachable ball for digs and contested several Cardinal hits.

"Just touch everything," said Conquerors head coach Misty Sano. "That's what I told them. We're used to running a fast-paced game. When the sets came off slow, it's easier to line up with the hitter."

In the third game, Santa Clarita Christian played like it normally had all season. But it was too late.

Karla Eberlein, one of the Cardinals' leaders in kills all season, hit one of her five kills in to make it 9-6 Coastal Christian. Eberlein kept her team close at 13-7, but the Conquerors kept pulling farther ahead.

An 8-2 Cardinal run, which included a kill by Gibson and hitting errors by Coastal, made it a 20-18 Conqueror advantage.

An ace by Marcia Simenz set up match point.

Eberlein kept SCCS alive with her last kill, but her serve fell short of the net on the second match point.

Nonetheless, it was a successful run for the Cardinals as they attained their best playoff run in school history.

On Nov. 23, 2002, the Cardinals lost in the CIF-Southern Section Division V-AA Finals to Hesperia Christian in four games.


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