Officially, the Central Coast Section Division II girls volleyball final was decided in the fifth set, which Presentation won 15-7 over Mountain View High. However, coach Dave Winn opined that his Spartans lost Saturday’s match much earlier.
“I think it was lost in the first set,” he said. “We started so uncomposed that we didn’t set the tone like we normally do.”
Top seed Mountain View (24-9) fell behind 10-5 in the initial set, hurt by two attack errors, a pair of illegal hits and a service error.
Yet the Spartans overcame those mistakes, rallying late to take the lead at 21-20 on a kill by Eleonore Johansen. The senior standout scored the next two points as well – tapping the first shot over the net and crushing the second – prompting No. 7 Presentation (15-20) to call timeout.
Whatever was said seemed to work: The Panthers scored back-to-back points on kills to tie the set at 23. Mountain View regained the lead on Aidan O’Leary’s kill past two blockers, but it didn’t last long. The Spartans surrendered the next two points by committing a service error and a lift, then Presentation’s Peyton O’Hara served an ace to win the set 26-24.
“We normally serve and pass really well,” said Winn, whose team made four service errors in the set. “I think (Presentation) had 26 points on only nine kills, so that made for a really tough start to play that undisciplined. But I was proud of us for fighting back and winning the next two.”
Mountain View fought back from a 9-3 deficit to win the second set 25-21. An 11-4 run featuring two kills from Payton Shaffer and aces by Ashley Kane and Johansen put the Spartans up 14-13, but the Panthers clawed back to take a 19-17 lead. Mountain View answered with three consecutive points that included a block by Kyra Palmbush. The junior middle blocker scored two more points in the set, both on kills, with the latter giving her team a 23-21 advantage. Presentation followed that with an attack error, and the Spartans capped the set on Shaffer’s gliding shot to the back row.
The third set was all Mountain View. The Spartans, supported by an enthusiastic contingent of fans in the new Palo Alto High gym, never trailed. They built a 10-4 lead behind Johansen’s five points and cruised to a 25-14 win.
“We were pushing hard,” said Johansen, who totaled a team-high 24 kills. “We were being smart but also really aggressive.”
Mountain View didn’t lead after that. Presentation got off to a 3-1 advantage in the fourth set, which the Spartans tied at 9 before slipping behind by as many as five points. Mountain View showed resolve, however, cutting the deficit to 24-23 on a bump by Reyhaneh Turner that landed between several Panthers. Presentation’s Sophia Strass then closed out the set with a kill.
The Panthers jumped to a 4-1 lead in the fifth set. Mountain View cut the deficit to 6-5 before Presentation pulled away with three straight points. The Spartans got as close as 10-7 on Johansen’s back-row kill, but the Panthers answered with a 5-0 run for the win.
Although the set didn’t end the way Johansen wanted, she had nothing but praise for her team as she clutched the second-place plaque.
“I am unbelievably proud of my team,” she said. “We worked so hard and had a great season.”
Mountain View went undefeated in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League El Camino Division – without losing a set – and reached the CCS final for the first time in nine years.