An unbeaten run through the Channel League wasn’t enough to prepare the San Marcos High girls volleyball team for the CIF-SS Division 2 playoffs.
The Royals enjoyed a 20-win season and breezed to the Channel League title, but ran into a battle hardened Flintridge Sacred Heart team in the opening round of the playoffs and bowed out in straight sets 25-15, 26-24 25-21 on Thursday night at Maury Halleck Gym.
“We’re proud of our girls. They came into this match ready. They practiced hard for a week and a half to get ready, but to play a team that executes pretty flawlessly,” said San Marcos coach Tina Brown. “With the down time in the Channel league right now or just the strength of the Channel League we don’t have the ability to prep for that.”
Flintridge Sacred Heart entered the playoffs as the fourth place team out of the ultra-competitive Mission League, which includes Marymount, Harvard-Westlake and Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, all of whom are among the top teams in the state if not the nation.
It took a while for San Marcos to adjust to the speed of the Flintridge Sacred Heart attack as the visiting Tologs used a 9-1 run to take a 13-5 lead in set one. The Royals were never able to recover as Flintridge Sacred Heart on a kill by freshman outside hitter Peyton Dejardin, who finished with a match-high 15 kills.
In set two, San Marcos found its footing. After falling behind 11-6 the Royals closed their deficit to 19-18 on a Taylor Wilson kill and evened the set at 24-24 on a kill by Kendall Williams. But back-to-back kills by Dejardin clinched a 2-0 set lead of Flintridge Sacred Heart.
“It was absolutely deflating, but the other side of that is ‘you guys are battling, you’re in this game,’” Brown said. “You’re not getting annihilated. You can actually battle this team and do something.”
The momentum from the disheartening second set clearly affected San Marcos in set three as Flintridge Sacred Heart jumped out to a 7-0 lead after a kill by another freshman outside hitter Danielle Thomas-Nathan.
The Royals would once again battle back and cut their deficit to 18-16 on a kill by Bella Johnson, but that’s as close as San Marcos would come as the Tologs relied on their firepower on the outside down the stretch.
San Marcos was led by senior outside hitter Kendall Williams, who finished with a team-high 12 kills, five of which came in the third set. Johnson chipped in 10 kills and Grace Matthews was once again a stalwart defensively as she racked up
“I have to say that I thought Kendall and Taylor did great for us tonight,” Brown said. “They were really the backbone of the success we had.”