St. Vincent continued a strong run in the North Section Division V volleyball playoffs with a straight set win over visiting Urban of San Francisco in DeCarli Gym on Wednesday.
The Lady Mustangs relied on an impressive individual effort by senior Amanda Zeryny together with a solid defensive team game to turn back the Blues 3-0.
The third seeded Mustangs will advance to the NCS championship game on Saturday against the winner of the Marin Academy/Convent-Stuart Hall match played on Friday.
Zeryny, one of the top point scorers in the section and No.1 in the North Central II League, recorded 29 kills including six in the final set to pace her club into the finals. Most of her hits came from the left side of the net, although she was also effective from the back row on long rallies.
The upstart Blues came into the match after upsetting second seeded Bentley of Lafayette 3-0. Supporting a deceiving 14-15 overall record, the taller Urban team was a constant threat throughout the match.
“Don’t let that record detract from our season,” said Urban coach Kelli Heyes before the match. “Five of the teams in our Bay Counties West League made it into different divisions of the playoffs. Our win over Bentley was no upset.”
Urban came into the contest with back to back wins over favored International and Bentley powered by a strong front line. The difference in this match was the ability of the Lady Mustangs to take advantage of their strong defense and the ability to convert well-timed assists into solid hits. Playing without injured regular libero Sara Sarlatte to open the match, the Mustangs turned to the play of replacement Grace Woerner to get the job done, and she delivered.
Woerner sat out half of the early season on CIF transfer rules, but the Novato veteran made the difference in this one. She accounted for 13 digs at key times during the match when the lanky Blues outside hitters attempted kills from the front line.
Mustang coach Kelsey McIntire pushed all the right buttons in this one by alternating the play of Samantha Silva and improving freshman Katarina Cespedes at the middle hitter position. Silva and Cespedes split six kills between them in the final set.
Sarlatte got into the action in the back row in the final states of the match, but she came in as a regular other than her regular libero position. She was spotted during the match helping Woerner with her positioning on the floor. It was a team effort, and the rotation of the Mustang defenders was executed quite well.
Zeryny not only paced both team in kills, but she accounted for 25 digs which frustrated the taller Blues led by 6-foot, 1-inch Isabell Sheppard. After several failed kill attempts in the first set, Urban turned to short placements when St. Vincent went on a 12-5 run to close out the set with the Mustangs winning 25-18.
St. Vincent was much more aggressive on kill attempts, and it pleased McIntire.
“Our girls love to go for it,” she said after the win. “We don’t waste good assists.”
A nice save going out of bounds by sophomore Sophia Skubic that was converted to a block at the middle of the net by Silva highlighted the 25-21 win in the second set by the Mustangs.
Four straight points off the serves of Grace Agusto helped St, Vincent grab the lead in the final set and it was never headed. Kills along the way by Zeryny, Silva and Cespedes provided the offensive momentum with strong sets by rotating specialist Alexandra Saisi. Saisi led the way with 20 assists on the night.
The Mustang bench rushed the floor after St. Vincent closed it out 25-16. The victory by St. Vincent improved its overall record to 24-6 heading into the championship match on Saturday.