St. Vincent bounced into uncharted volleyball playoff territory with a dominating 3-1 win over the Bay School of San Francisco on Saturday night in DeCarli Gym.
The third-seeded Lady Mustangs not only moved into the North Coast Section Division V semifinals, but earned another home match and a possible spot in the Nor-Cal playoffs as well.
Second-seeded Bentley was upset by the Urban School of San Francisco, 3-0, on the same night, which sets up a surprising match between the Lady Mustangs and the tenth-seeded Blues for the right to move into the championship game on Saturday.
The result of the St. Vincent-Urban game on Wednesday was not available at press time.
The game between St. Vincent and the Bay School was a rematch of the quarterfinal contest between the same two teams who played in Letterman Gym at the Presidio last season. St. Vincent was eliminated last year, and it apparently was not forgotten by the senior players on the Mustang roster this season.
Led by veteran outside hitter Amanda Zeryny, the focused St. Vincent club rushed to a convincing 25-14, 25-14, 22-25 and 25-13 victory over the sixth seeded Breakers (19-11).
Zeryny played a very emotional match last year against the Breakers, and was even better this time around with 30 kills and 32 digs to help St. Vincent move on. “She has got a fire in her belly,” said coach Kelsey McIntire earlier in the season.
The Mustangs won the first two sets in convincing fashion. Paced by the kills of Zeryny and Grace Hood, St. Vincent rushed to an 18-7 lead, and never fell behind in the opening minutes. Both senior outside hitters consistently found nothing but open floor from the edge of the net.
While the kills were spectacular, it was the work of the St. Vincent defense that kept the Bay School in check. Left-handed Breaker power hitter Ava Grossman was continually turned back by focused digs on the part of libero Sarah Sarlatte, Zeryny and Hood.
Sarlatte rotated into the back row and moved from side to side to routinely frustrate Grossman and 5-foot, 11-inch senior Ila Clark with recoveries off the deck. Liberos do not have to abide by the substitution rule, and Sarlatte was used quite effectively by McIntire.
The Breakers never led in the first two sets, but managed to reach back and get their rhythm in the third. The rallies between the two clubs became longer and more competitive as the Bay School went ahead, 22-19, and McIntire called the second of her time outs to break the momentum.
Despite a couple of digs by Sarlatte, the Breakers kept the lead to pull out a three-point win, and change the tone of the match.
Zeryny appeared to take things personally, and accounted for seven points in the final set with assorted kills and dinks with the help of high lobs by senior Alexandra Saisi. Saisi, the team leader in assists for the Mustangs on the season, finished with 25 for the match.
Grace Agusto, listed as a serving specialist on a recent senior recognition night, was more than up to the task this time around, putting into play seven low-flying serves, and the match was all but over. Four of her serves could not be returned by Bay.
It was fitting that Zeryny ended the match with a kill. She got great help from Hood who finished with 14 kills and 14 digs.
McIntire did not take previous bracket scores into account for this one. “I don’t focus on that,” she said. The coach did take some extended time during one of the breaks to mentor promising freshman Katarina Cespedes on her defensive work around the net. “She was trying to do too much. Her role this season is as a middle blocker. She wound up doing that very well.”
St. Vincent improved to 23-6 for the season as the Lady Mustangs appear to have profited from a demanding schedule this season in defeating two league champions in Mendocino and the Bay School.
St. Vincent made short work of 14th-seeded Mendocino in its opening match, winning, 3-0, by scores of 25-11, 25-13, 25-15.