The fire alarm that went off six times during Saturday’s Central Coast Section Division I semifinal match between the boys volleyball teams from Mountain View and Homestead highs was ruled a false alarm by tournament officials – not caused by the Spartans’ scorching performance.
Second-seeded Mountain View defeated No. 3 Homestead in four games at Independence High, advancing to the final to meet top-seeded St. Francis, which edged No. 4 Monta Vista in five games Saturday. The title match was scheduled Tuesday night, after the Town Crier’s press deadline.
In the semis, Mountain View survived a hard-fought first game (25-21), then overcame a second-set slipup (22-25) to win the next two games by identical scores (25-20).
“It comes down to executing – when we execute, we’re a pretty good team,” said Spartans coach M. Anthony Chen, who goes by MAC. “At this level, it’s all adjustments. Homestead had to adjust to us in the second game and then we adjusted right back in the third game. It’s just those little minor differences. When we execute, good things happen.”
A lot of good things happened to Mountain View (30-3 overall) Saturday morning against a formidable Homestead team it was facing for the fourth time. The Spartans beat the Mustangs (27-7) twice in Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division play and lost to them at a tournament last month.
“You know what to expect, but there’s always something that comes up,” Mountain View co-captain Jake Stuebner said of his team’s familiarity with Homestead. “All (four matches) were different. There was a lot of energy on both sides in this one. There was a lot more fire.”
And a lot more fire alarms, too. At least the piercing sound didn’t disrupt the first game, in which the Spartans went on a 7-2 run to pull away after Homestead took a 16-15 lead. Ryan McLaughlin contributed three kills – the first on a cross-court shot – and an ace during the spurt. The co-captain led Mountain View in kills (22) and aces (three) Saturday. McLaughlin’s seven assists were second only to fellow senior setter Logan Allen, who dished out 50 for the Spartans.
The alarm sounded after the first game, delaying the start of the second set by several minutes. It went off three times during the second game, stopping play.
“It would seem like we would get momentum and then the fire alarm would go off,” said senior outside hitter Stuebner, who totaled eight kills and an ace. “But I think it threw off both teams.”
Mountain View fell behind 21-15 in the second set, unable to draw closer than three points the rest of the way.
The Spartans surged in the third game, however. They built an 18-12 lead behind a 6-1 run featuring back-to-back kills from middle blocker Alec Flowers. The 6-foot-6 sophomore delivered the set-winning kill – with force – on a set by Allen and finished with 15 kills, six blocks and an ace.
“Alec Flowers – he dominates,” MAC said. “There’s really not an answer for him.”
Homestead had few answers for Flowers and his teammates in the fourth set, either. Mountain View pulled away from the back-and-forth game by scoring seven of the final 10 points. Flowers, McLaughlin, middle blocker Keenan Zucker and outside hitter Colton Stearns each posted a kill.
Next up: St. Francis
Mountain View faces another familiar foe in the final. The Spartans played St. Francis (29-5) three times in the regular season, winning twice.
“They’re extremely well coached,” Stuebner said of the Lancers. “They have some great hitters and are solid all around.”
St. Francis outlasted Monta Vista in five games in the semis, prevailing 25-27, 25-16, 25-19, 22-25, 15-13 at Independence.
“Our side of the court never lost confidence, and we kept executing in the middle with Cooper Diamond and Eric Reitmeir,” Lancers coach Mike Rubin said. “At the end of the match, we knew that senior Matt Larson was going to have to be trusted with the ball and he took some big swings to win the match.”
Larson, a 6-4 outside hitter, totaled 16 kills – including the match winner.