Roseland University Prep of Santa Rosa rallied in the late stages of its title-determining volleyball match against St. Vincent,and emerged with an exciting 3-1
win over the Lady Mustangs in DeCarli Gym on Thursday. The two clubs finished deadlocked for the top spot in North Central League II play, and will face off Friday to determine the automatic NC II representative in the North Coast Section playoffs.
The evenly matched squads have now split the season series, with St. Vincent winning against the Lady Knights in Santa Rosa last month. Roseland will be seeded in Division IV while the Mustangs are a lock in Division V.
The Knights came into Thursday’s game needing a win on the road to stay in title contention, and they got it done with a determined effort.
St. Vincent got off to a solid start on senior night by edging the Knights, 25-22, in the tightly played first set. Senior outside hitter Amanda Zeryny continued to lead the assault with hard-hit kills from the left side of the net off major assists from teammate Alex Saisi. Zeryny had five hard-hit winners, and forced the Knights to scramble on the defensive side of the net. Saisi went into the game averaging 4.3 assists per set.
The poised Knights were not ready to go away, however. They jumped to a 16-12 advantage in the second set, and led from start to finish. Displaying a defensive style in keeping everything in play, the Roseland club appeared to settle in, and evened the match at 1-1 with a 25-18 win.
Rahasya Hernandez, one of the most highly rated volleyball players in the section, showed a variety of skills at the center of the net, alternating hard hits with clever placements to open spaces in the Mustang defense.
The final two sets both went to the Knights, 25-22, and, 26-24, but both very, very close from start to finish.
Blocks by freshman Katarina Cespedes and Samantha Silva kept the Mustangs close to the lead on both sets.
In one of the longest rallies of the night, Cespedes raced toward the out of bounds area and kept the ball alive with a desperation shot that was returned tovplay by the Mustangs, resulting in a point.
Eight consecutive points and another booming kill by Zeryny helped the Mustangs take a 24-23 advantage in the fourth set, but they could not finish the job losing on a double-hit error.
Roseland went on the attack for both sets, but the Knights were turned back at times by the defensive work of Mustang libero Sarah Sarlatte.
Sarlatte, Sophia Skubic, Grace Hood and Zeryny combined to give the Mustangs a chance to force a final set, but the Knights were too consistent this time around.
Zeryny went into the match leading the Mustangs in kills with more than 300 for the season. The play of the lanky sophomore Hernandez from Roseland was outstanding. She roamed the center of the court, and appeared to keep everything alive until a winning shot could be located. The defensive nature of the play of the Knights centered around keeping rallies alive, and the strategy was on target.
The Knights found holes in the back line of the Mustang defense in most of the late going with five shots resulting in points in the key fourth set.
Mustang coach Kelsey McIntire was not certain about the time for the playoff match between the two teams, but she did note that it would be played at DeCarli Gym.
Hood, Zeryny, Silva, Saisi and serving specialist Grace Agusto were all honored in their final regularly scheduled appearance before the contest.
St. Vincent’s junior varsity forced a third and deciding set in the preliminary game, but fell to thevKnights in a slow and deliberate match to open play for the evening.