San Marcos girls volleyball (20-10) knocked off the hosting Hart (15-6) 3-1 on Thursday.
The Royals won the CIF Division 3 opening round matchup with scores of: 26-24, 11-25, 25-18 and 26-24.
San Marcos was poised for round three of Royals versus Indians. Hart won both three-set matches while the Royals could only take one set.
“We were focusing on the mental side because we had seen them before,” said Hart head coach Mary Irilian “With beating a team twice, it’s very hard to beat them a third time. I’ve seen it throughout the years of coaching, you can get into a place of comfort and complacency. I was worried it might happen.”
San Marcos was led by opposite hitter Riley Green, who hammered down 12 kills.
The Indians took control early and broke off a 7-0 run thanks to four aces from outside hitter Maiah Jiz.
Jiz finished with 11 kills and six digs.
Hart worked up a solid lead but the Royals managed to sneak back into the game and retake the lead with a Kaylin Cooney kill.
Hitting errors on both sides kept the set close as each team inched closer to 25 points.
Maxwell would slam down her seventh kill to take a 24-23 lead but San Marcos answered when it needed to.
Cooney tied the game with another kill before Riley Green hit another one down to take the first set.
Hart adjusted and rolled through the second set. The Royals kept shooting themselves in the foot while the Indians kept a foot on the gas.
Big swings by Hart junior Madi Maxwell kept the team in the game and helped the Indians steal momentum.
Maxwell led Hart with 23 kills.
The third set was a complete flip of the script. San Marcos started rolling while Hart seemed out of sync and quickly dug themselves a 15-6 hole. The Royals ran wild through the set and won by seven. It was the first time San Marcos could win two sets, let alone three over Hart.
The Indians looked eel in control again in the fourth. Even with a big lead, the home team was fighting for everything. Jiz took two big swings in a quick rally and finally managed to get the kill on her third swing.
The team was up as much as 19-12 before the Royals soared back into the game and stole the final set. The visiting team feasted on Hart mistakes and took every point they could get.
“I have a few that are new to CIF, so I think pressure took a hold,” said Irilian. “You can see them upright and more tense so we didn’t get the flow we normally have.”
The Indians took a timeout down 25-24. Irilian tried to regroup her team who was right there in it. They’d get a few swings in before a Green block ended Hart’s season.
“This is a hard learning experience,” said Irilian. “We would’ve been home on Saturday against probably Oaks Christian. So that pumped them up knowing we already the coin flip. This is just an upset, it is what it is.”
San Marcos would finish the game on a 14-5 run to stun the Indians on their home court.
Hart had a very strong season and while it wasn’t the ending they could’ve hoped for, many of these players are fairly new to the game and have made amazing strides to get to where they are.
Irilian cited Jiz, libero Alexis Holloway and senior Alyssa Cordoba as some of of her players who made great progression this year.
Hart will graduate a handful seniors after a bittersweet end to a fantastic season. But even after an upset ending the future is still bright at Hart.
“We were so pumped beating Valencia and tying for second,” said Irilian. “We had some memorable moments. We were the only team to beat Saugus. So there’s a lot of really good memories that we’ll have but it’s hard when it ends. I hope this sticks with them because I have eight juniors that’ll be returning. I hope they get a feel for what’s it takes to keep moving forward.”