West Ranch girls volleyball traveled to Mission Hills to take on Bishop Alemany in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 playoffs on Thursday.
With a packed gym full of fans and supporters from both schools, Alemany (26-6-2 overall) came out focused and won the match 3-1.
“I think we competed incredibly well,” said West Ranch head coach Jamey Ker. “Alemany was probably surprised about the challenge that we gave them being the low seed that we were. We can leave this match being pretty happy with it because we worked so hard. We just got beat tonight.”
In the first set, the Warriors quickly moved ahead of West Ranch, scoring four consecutive points on Ruth Kayongo’s and Annah Rivera’s kills to lead 10-8.
West Ranch’s Arianna Romagnano and Allison Jacobs kept the Wildcats in it thanks to some timely aces and kills.
The Wildcats couldn’t get closer than four points of the Warriors, however, dropping the first set 25-19.
Jumping out to a 5-1 lead in the second set, the Wildcats (14-16) began the set playing motivated and spirited volleyball.
Leading for most of the set, the Wildcats got contributions from Jacobs, Gwen Garate and Erin Eskoff. Jacobs’ powerful swing kept catching the Warriors off guard, Garate provided some key digs and Eskoff helped out with assists and her serving.
“It’s exciting that they are coming back next year,” Ker said. “They have been playing together for a long time. Thinking that Allison is a junior is pretty crazy. She was clearly the MVP on both sides of the court and she really played her heart out.”
Eskoff finished the day with 18 assists and one ace.
The Wildcats won the second set to tie things up at 1-1.
The third set was eventful with Alemany leading the majority of the time, forcing West Ranch to call a timeout down 15-10. The Wildcats battled back but couldn’t get within two points of Alemany.
The Warriors won the third set, pushing West Ranch to the brink of elimination. The Cats needed to win the next two sets to advance.
Down 2-1, West Ranch won the first point, but went on to drop the next five of six points to give Alemany some breathing room. A combination of points by Jacobs, Garate and Sophie Bobal got the Wildcats back in at 13-9.
Coming out of a timeout, West Ranch went on a tear, winning the next nine of 11 points, forcing Alemany to call a timeout of their own, down 18-15.
Up 21-18, things turned for the worse for the Wildcats as the Warriors scored the next four points to get a lead late in the set.
Succumbing 27-25, West Ranch dropped the set and the match against Alemany.
“Some of these girls I’ve known since they were about 12 so I don’t know if I’m getting emotional just yet,” Ker said. “I’ve grown really close to and created relationships with them and have gone through struggles and have helped each other through them. A lot of seniors will be missed. A lot of good people and a lot of good volleyball players.”