APTOS – The College Of the Sequoias Giants were not intimidated by the two state championship banners that hang in the Adobe Palace when they arrived for their second-round playoff matchup against the top-seeded Cabrillo College Seahawks.
After winning the first game and holding a commanding 16-7 lead midway through the second set, the Giants seemed to have the Seahawks right where they wanted them.
Cabrillo Coach Kelsee Montagna called a timeout and gathered her team in an attempt to right the ship. She has a unique insight into the pressures felt by her squad, in 2013 she endured it as well.
“No one is going to roll over for us.” Said Montagna, “earn it. Earn the number 1 seed.”
The expectations for the Seahawks coming into the season were high, as they should be at one of the state’s premier volleyball programs. The program has 108 consecutive conference wins, won the Coast North conference 12 consecutive times and is loaded with sophomore talent.
The Seahawks retook the court with renewed purpose and proceeded to dominate the rest of the game outscoring the Giants 70-40 to take the match in four sets.
“Once we started kind of getting that fighting spirit back it changed the whole momentum of the game,” said sophomore outside hitter Ellie Cary. “We deserve to be here.”
Suddenly the previously disoriented Seahawks became a well-oiled machine seamlessly integrating and communicating with one another.
“We play better when we are having fun and relaxed,” said freshman Kendra Lis, “especially when we are talking.”
Lis was the hub of the offense, seamlessly setting up her teammates with 43 assists. She also balanced the attack, enabling six of her teammates to register double-digit attacks.
Lis leads the state in assists per set.
Cary recently returned from an injury and relished the opportunity to be back on the court for the playoff push. Her emphatic reactions further charged up a lively and animated crowd.
“I think it always kinda plays into it, especially when other athletes come out to support us.” Cary said, “we have a really tight nit athletics family here.”
Athletes from multiple Carbillo sports assembled on the opposing end of the court to cheer and support their fellow Seahawks. During Giant’s serves the drumming of their feet from the bleachers became deafening, echoing off the ceiling filling the Adobe Palace with energy.
The Seahawks host West Valley College (16-9,8-4) on Nov. 24 at 7 p.m. in the Adobe Palace. The winner advances to the state championships.