MV volleyball

Mountain View High puts up a double block last week against Los Gatos. The Spartans, who upset the Wildcats, are the top seed in the Central Coast Section Division I playoffs.

What a way to enter the playoffs. The Mountain View High girls volleyball team capped the regular season with its biggest win of the season – a five-set decision over a Los Gatos squad on the cusp of going undefeated in league.

“Definitely a great stepping stone for starting the playoffs next week,” coach Dave Winn said after the Oct. 26 home victory, which guaranteed the Spartans a second-place finish in the SCVAL De Anza Division at 9-3.

Two days later, Mountain View (23-4 overall) landed the top seed in the Central Coast Section Division I playoffs; Los Gatos (23-8) made the Open Division with the seven other teams deemed the best in CCS.

The Division I playoffs began Saturday for all but the top three seeds. The Spartans, along with No. 2 Palo Alto (18-12) and No. 3 Los Altos (22-13) – teams Mountain View finished just ahead of in the SCVAL De Anza Division – earned first-round byes at Thursday’s seeding meeting. That moved them directly into Tuesday’s quarterfinal round (played after the Town Crier’s deadline).

Mountain View seems to be on the more favorable side of the draw, having already defeated No. 4 Monta Vista (12-11) and No. 5 Gunn (14-19) two times each in De Anza Division play. The Spartans needed to beat visiting No. 8 Cupertino (21-10) in the quarterfinals to host the Monta Vista-Gunn winner in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Thursday.

“Indeed, I’m very excited that our hard work has paid off,” Winn said of his team’s desirable seed. “We’ve had good draws before and haven’t taken advantage of them. I’m hoping that our team stays motivated this year to achieve their lofty goals.”

What Mountain View achieved last week – outlasting Los Gatos 25-22, 20-25, 28-26, 23-25, 15-13 – is a feat “the kids will remember for a long time to come,” Winn said. “While we didn’t have our best statistical match, it was a great showcase of our grit and resilience to the pressure of playing a high-quality opponent.”

Tessa Hunter spearheaded the Spartans’ victory, amassing 13 kills, five aces and 26 digs – all team highs. Millie Kopp contributed 12 kills, none bigger than her match-winner. Andisheh Turner and Anya Kesselring recorded 26 and 14 assists, respectively, with Turner also contributing 11 kills, two aces and 14 digs. Winn also praised the play of Lyric Manson, who “did an awesome job at (middle blocker) slowing down the LG attack with seven kills and a block.” Fiona Huang added a team-best three blocks.

Long break for LAHS

Los Altos also capped its regular season against Los Gatos, falling in straight sets Oct. 22 on the road to finish 8-4 in the De Anza Division.

The Eagles’ early end to the league season, coupled with their first-round bye in CCS, means a long layoff between matches. Coach Peter Kim hopes the 10-day break results in needed rest – not rust.

“We were playing well at the end of the year, but we were definitely a tired team; we were pretty exhausted,” he said last week. “This gives us time to get ready, get rested and take care of some nagging injuries.”

Los Altos was scheduled Tuesday to host No. 8 San Benito (20-17), which topped No. 11 North Salinas in four sets Saturday. A win by the Eagles puts them in Thursday’s semifinals against either Palo Alto or No. 7 Menlo-Atherton (16-17) at a time and place to be determined.

In league play, Los Altos and Paly split their two matches, both of which went five sets. They last played Oct. 6 at Los Altos, where the Eagles prevailed 25-16, 27-29, 25-15, 19-25, 21-19.

“It will be tough to potentially play Palo Alto again,” Kim said. “They’re a really good team that we barely beat before.”

The CCS Division I final is set for 3 p.m. Saturday at Gunn. The champion and runner-up are both guaranteed berths in next week’s Northern California playoffs.

“We hope to get to NorCals again,” said Kim, whose team last qualified in 2018 and advanced all the way to the state Division II final. “That would be awesome. It’s always part of our plan and one of our major goals every year.”

Mountain View last made it to NorCal in 2019, falling in the first round of the Division II playoffs.

Lancers start strong

St. Francis also qualified that year, getting as far as the NorCal Open Division quarterfinals. The Lancers seem poised to make another deep postseason run this year.

Seeded fourth in the CCS Open Division, St. Francis (18-10) cruised to a straight-set victory over visiting No. 5 Hillsdale (23-2) in Saturday’s quarterfinals.

The Lancers visit top-seeded Mitty (31-7) in the semifinals, a match set to start at 7 p.m. today. St. Francis beat the Monarchs twice in West Catholic Athletic League play – in four and five sets.

The winner takes on No. 2 St. Ignatius (25-7) or No. 3 Menlo (27-5) in Saturday’s 5:30 p.m. final at Gunn.