Today, December 3, girls volleyball faced off against Archbishop Mitty, this year’s CCS champions, in the CIF NorCal Championship Game. Though Los Altos had pushed the number one ranked Bay Area volleyball powerhouse to the limit in their last encounter, it was unable to replicate that performance and surmount the lead that the Monarchs had built up throughout the game. Los Altos fell 0-3.
The Lady Eagles came into the championship game with momentum from two wins in the NorCal Tournament against Pleasant Valley High School and Redwood High School. Having gone toe to toe with Mitty in CCS finals just a few weeks earlier, the team was relatively unintimidated by the Monarchs.
“We all knew Mitty was the number one team in the nation, [but] we were not intimidated,” co-captain senior Hanna Koehler said. “Yes, they are a really good team, but we have built up so much confidence this season and knew that we had a chance as we had two match points against them only a few days ago.”
Though intimidation may not have played a factor in this match-up, the Monarchs’ skills certainly were on display throughout. For starters, Mitty’s top scorer, who had been on the bench for the two teams’ CCS encounter, was back on the court. Mitty, being the CCS champion, also had the luxury of playing on its own court.
Mitty started off the first set of the game by dishing out powerful serves and quick spikes. The Lady Eagles were able to hold their own, but eventually, Mitty’s blistering spikes overpowered their defense. Several long back and forth rallies ensued as the Eagles struggled to come back from their initial point deficit.
The Lady Eagles were down 2-7 when Los Altos head coach Peter Kim called for a time-out. Los Altos came out roaring after the brief time-out and accumulated points by successfully spiking their way to a 13-13 tie. The Monarchs, however, quickly regained their footing and managed to pull ahead until match-point was reached; 24-19. The Lady Eagles managed to score another point before the Monarchs scored to win the set 25-20.
Although the Lady Eagles lost the first set, they fought back hard, keeping the first few points in the second set close. The girls kept the game tied 3-3, before the Monarchs raced ahead with superior spiking skill. It was here that the pressure of the game, in conjunction with Mitty’s strength, consistency and more nuanced advantages began to have a noticeable effect on Los Altos. Small errors such as double-contact and slight miscalculations in spiking began to riddle the Lady Eagles’ game. As a result, the score was 8-18 before they were able to serve again.
“I think that we had a better game against them when we played them in the CCS finals, but we still had a great night tonight,” co-captain senior Katie Tritschler said. “It was much more of a mental game tonight and it got to us a bit.”
The Monarchs made use of their heavy hitting spiker to widen the score gap and further take advantage of small kinks in Los Altos’ game. Mitty took the set 25-12.
Despite losing the first two sets, the Lady Eagles were not discouraged. They started off the set strong, spiking the ball and making sure that the Monarchs did not create a lead like the past two sets. Although the Eagles played and spiked well, Mitty maintained an air of composure, blocking every shot with kill-potential. Mitty’s airtight defense only got more impenetrable as the game went on.
“Mitty was very, very good,” head coach Peter Kim said. “They played defense and they went out and did what they had to do. They had their best player on the court, and it makes everything else easier on the lineup when you have your best player in the game.”
After the score was tied at 4-4, Mitty was on serve. As the Monarchs smashed the ball strategically, the Lady Eagles found themselves unable to respond. They fought back hard, trying to make one last stand. Unfortunately, the Eagles lost the final set 14-25, ending the game and giving the Monarchs a ticket to the CIF State Championships.
With this final game ending the season for the Los Altos girls, the team has still finished strong, with a record of 34 wins and seven losses. This second place NorCal finish caps off a memorable season.
“I’m very proud of how we’ve played this year,” Kim said. “No one expected us to be [at the Norcal Championships]. It’ll go down in Los Altos history. Next year’s girls have big shoes to fill, but I expect us to be just as good next year.”
In past years, the team never made it past the quarterfinals of CCS.
“We really stepped it up this year and, with our strong team chemistry, we were able to perform to our highest potential,” Katie said. “We all played with passion, and I know that that is a key part to our success. I couldn’t be more proud of my team for being able to come together and have such an incredible season.”