The Homestead High girls volleyball team got off to a promising start in the Central Coast Section Division I final, but the match ended in disappointment for a squad featuring three players from Los Altos.
The Mustangs, seeded fourth, jumped to a big lead in the opening game, but No. 3 Menlo-Atherton rallied to win that set and the next two to claim the championship Saturday at Independence High.
“We started out pretty hot in Game 1 and built a 6-point lead, only to give it all back on hitting errors,” said Homestead coach and Los Altos resident Gary Carroll, whose daughter Casey led the team with 11 kills Saturday.
The Bears took advantage of many of those mistakes, bouncing back to win the game 25-22. The Mustangs never recovered – M-A prevailed 25-22 in the second set and 25-20 in the third.
Carroll said Homestead (23-9) experienced “a letdown” after upsetting Palo Alto in the semifinals. The Mustangs upended two-time defending state champ Paly in straight games behind 22 kills from Emily Reed. Homestead entered the match 0-3 against the top-seeded Vikings this year.
The season didn’t end Saturday for Homestead, however. The Mustangs have qualified for the NorCal playoffs and were scheduled to open at California High (29-3) of San Ramon Tuesday, after the Town Crier press deadline.
In CCS Division II action, defending champ St. Francis ran into top seed Mitty in the semifinals and lost in four games Nov. 14.
The Monarchs beat the fifth-seeded Lancers 25-20, 22-25, 25-20, 25-20.
Alex Espinosa notched 13 kills to lead St. Francis (21-14).
“I am so proud of the 2012 St. Francis varsity volleyball team,” coach Leahi Hall Leon said. “What a great group of girls who have truly tested themselves against the best there is out there.”
In the CCS team final, St. Francis suffered the same fate as every team that faced Monta Vista this season – a defeat.
The unbeaten Matadors dispatched the Lancers 11-7 Nov. 14 in Los Gatos.
St. Francis received points from Mary Closs (3) in singles and the doubles teams of Paulina Bajet-Catica Negru (2), Illina Yang-Andie Hamm (1) and Gretchen Bahr-Erica Gustafson (1).
The Lancers, who beat league rival Mitty in the semifinals, fell to 15-6 overall, while Monta Vista improved to 23-0.
Fourth-seeded St. Francis (9-6-1) bowed out of the CCS playoffs in the semifinal round, edged 2-1 by top seed Los Gatos Nov. 13 at Lynbrook.
The Lancers reached the semis by clipping fifth-seeded Saratoga 5-4 on penalty shots Nov. 10.