Central and Buchanan highs have been battling each other all season, so it made all the sense in the world that they would take their Central Section Division I championship match to a full five sets.
In the fourth meeting between the teams this season, all of which have gone the maximum, it was Central that won again. The Grizzlies pulled out a 28-30, 25-21,25-19, 18-25, 15-10 victory for the first section volleyball title in school history Saturday night at College of the Sequoias.
“We played them four times and we beat them four times and every game went to the wire,” said Grizzlies coach Randy Burriss, whose team was making its first appearance in the finals. “I mean, it’s the best two teams in the section. We both deserve to be Valley champions.
“They’re a great team. We’re a great team. I don’t really know what to say. I’m really speechless for the first time in my life. I’m so proud of these girls. They busted their tails all summer lifting weights, training and right now it’s paid off. And congratulations to Buchanan.”
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Makayla Lewis had a game-high 21 kills, Imani Lacy six blocks, Andria Santoyo 34 digs and Maya Riddlesprigger nine kills and six blocks to lead the Grizzlies (40-2), who handed Buchanan its only two losses in Tri-River Athletic Conference play and in September beat the Bears in three sets at the SLO Town Volleyball Tournament.
Both teams qualified for the state tournament by reaching the finals. Regional pairings will be announced Sunday.
“(Saturday’s) game was probably the greatest game we’ve ever played,” Lewis said. “I think its two of the greatest teams in the Valley, but at the end we pushed through and came out with the win.
Central rallied from an 18-13 deficit in the first set, but Buchanan’s Ashley Dittman hammered five kills to help the Bears (33-7) pull out a 30-28 win.
Lewis-led Central built a 12-8 lead in the second set, but the Bears fought back to lead 16-15. Bailey Combs got hot late in the second set to help the Grizzlies to a 25-21 victory, tying the match 1-1.
Central jumped to a 7-1 lead in the third set behind the strong serving of Amethyst Harper. Combs came through with a kill to set up set point and Dittman lofted a shot long as Central won 25-19 for a 2-1 match lead.
The Grizzlies had all the momentum heading into the fourth, but the Bears built a 10-7 advantage. Harper’s strong serving helped Central climb back and tie it, 11-11. Buchanan surged back ahead behind Lexi Pagani’s five kills and with a 25-18 win forced the decisive fifth set.
What started as a back-and-forth slugfest saw Pagani come through with a sneaky kill after a long rally to give the Bears a 7-4 advantage. But the Grizzlies stormed back, eventually tying it 9-9 when Lacy blocked Chico State-bound Kennedy Rice’s kill attempt.
It was all Central the rest of the way. Lewis hammered home the kill on match point.
“I knew if I didn’t get it down it would be really hard,” Lewis said. “Having the team count on me to be the one to do it, like I really love my team and I’m so glad they put the faith in me to do it.”
Dittman finished with 18 kills and 15 digs for Buchanan, Rice 14 kills and 10 digs, Pagani 10 kills and nine digs, Mikayla Weiss 13 kills, 37 assists and 14 digs and Shaye Dubberke 44 digs. The Bears returned to the final for the first time since 2009.
“I’m so proud of my team for the way we played,” Rice said. “It sucks that we lost, but we played so well together and unified that the loss didn’t even sting that bad. It was such a win for us, but a loss on the record. It was an unbelievable match. I’m proud of Central, because they played such a good match. We’ll come back next year for more.”
Exeter 3, Bakersfield Christian 2: Alexis Kirkman had 11 kills, Teagan Bryant eight, 14 digs and two aces and Corrine Acosta nine kills and 20 digs to help the second-seeded Monarchs win their first championship in nine years 25-13, 13-25, 25-14, 19-25, 15-9. Katelyn Acosta had 22 digs and three aces and Sydney Guinn 18 assists. The top-seeded Eagles fell short in their drive for five, moving up to D-II after four straight D-III titles.
Mission Oak 3, Yosemite 1: After losing in the final each of the previous two seasons, the second-seeded Hawks are first-time champions following a 25-18, 25-22, 18-25, 25-19 win over the Badgers – the school that Mission Oak beat in in both the 2015 and 2016 semifinals.
Immanuel 3, Liberty-Madera Ranchos 0: Lindsay Unruh delivered 18 kills and 12 digs and Danielle Jefferies 15 and 11 as the fifth-seeded Eagles beat the No. 2 Hawks 26-24, 25-16, 25-21 for back-to-back titles after taking D-V last season. Brooke Gonsalves added 36 assists and 19 digs and she and Bailey Workman each had five aces. It’s the 11th overall section title for Immanuel.
California City 3, Sierra Pacific 1: The top-seeded Ravens, semifinal losers to Immanuel a year ago, bounced back from an opening-set loss to win 21-25, 26-24, 25-23, 25-14 as Chloe Emory and Nicole Richardson had 12 kills each. The Golden Bears earned the third seed a year after going 9-17.
Central Section Volleyball Championships
Saturday’s matches at College of the Sequoias
Division I : No. 1 Central 3, No. 2 Buchanan 2 | 28-30, 25-21, 25-19, 18-25, 15-10
D-II: No. 2 Exeter 3, No. 1 Bakersfield Christian 2 | 25-13, 13-25, 25-14, 19-25, 15-9
D-III: No. 2 Mission Oak 3, No. 1 Yosemite 1 | 25-18, 25-22, 18-25, 25-19
D-IV: No. 5 Immanuel 3, No. 2 Liberty-Madera Ranchos 0 | 26-24, 25-16, 25-21
D-V: No. 1 California City 3, No. 3 Sierra Pacific 1 | 21-25, 26-24, 25-23, 25-14
CIF State Championships
All matches Nov. 16 at 7 p.m.
No. 8 St. Francis-Sacramento at No. 1 Archbishop Mitty-San Jose; No. 5 Monte Vista-Danville at No. 4 St. Ignatius-San Francisco; No. 6 Menlo School-Atherton at No. 3 Turlock; No. 7 St. Francis-Mountain View at No. 2 Marin Catholic-Kentfield.
No. 8 Corona Del Mar-Newport Beach at No. 1 Torrey Pines-San Diego; No. 5 Redondo Union-Redondo Beach at No. 4 Canyon Crest Academy-San Diego; No. 6 Central at No. 3 Marymount-Los Angeles; No. 7 Cathedral Catholic-San Diego at No. 2 Mater Dei-Santa Ana.
All matches Wednesday at 7 p.m.
No. 16 Cosumnes Oaks-Elk Grove at No. 1 James Logan-Union City; No. 9 Pleasant Grove-Elk Grove at No. 8 Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland; No. 12 Burlingame at No. 5 Lick-Wilmerding-San Francisco; No. 13 Oak Ridge-El Dorado Hills at No. 4 Palo Alto; No. 14 Valley Christian-San Jose at No. 3 Buchanan; No. 11 Campolindo-Moraga at No. 6 Sacred Heart Cathedral-San Francisco; No. 10 Tracy at No. 7 Branson-Ross; No. 15 California-San Ramon at No. 2 Ponderosa-Shingle Springs.
No. 16 Palisades-Pacific Palisades at No. 1 Santa Margarita-Rancho Santa Margarita; No. 9 La Jolla Country Day-La Jolla at No. 8 Santiago-Corona; No. 12 Esperanza-Anaheim at No. 5 Bishop’s-La Jolla; No. 13 Liberty-Bakersfield at No. 3 Harvard-Westlake-Los Angeles; No. 14 Granada Hills Charter at No. 3 San Juan Hills-San Juan Capistrano; No. 11 Garces at No. 6 Orange Lutheran; No. 10 El Dorado-Placentia at No. 7 La Costa Canyon-Carlsbad; No. 15 Ramona at No. 2 Long Beach Poly.
No. 16 Analy-Sebastapol at No. 1 Carlmont; No. 9 University-San Francisco at No. 8 Lowell-San Francisco; No. 12 Pleasant Valley-Chico at No. 5 Foothill-Pleasanton; No. 13 Moreau-Hayward at No. 4 Granite Bay; No. 14 Del Oro-Rocklin at No. 3 Sacred Heart Prep-San Francisco; No. 11 Chico at No. 6 Nevada Union-Grass Valley; No. 10 San Ramon Valley at No. 7 St. Mary’s-Stockton; No. 15 Rocklin at No. 2 Notre Dame-Belmont.
No. 16 Carson at No. 1 Sierra Canyon-Chatsworth; No. 9 Culver City at No. 8 Exeter; No. 12 Taft-Los Angeles at No. 5 Sage Hill-Newport Beach; No. 13 Crean Lutheran-Irvine at No. 4 Santa Fe Christian-Solana Beach; No. 14 Eagle Rock-Los Angeles at No. 3 Olympian-Chula Vista; No. 11 Cypress at No. 6 Westridge-Pasadena; No. 10 Santa Monica at No. 7 Del Norte-San Diego; No. 15 Bakersfield Christian at No. 2 La Salle-Pasadena.
No. 16 Woodland at No. 1 Santa Catalina-Monterey; No. 9 Alhambra-Martinez at No. 8 Hilmar; No. 12 Christian Brothers-Sacramento at No. 5 Marin Academy-San Rafael; No. 13 Drake-San Anselmo at No. 4 Lincoln-San Francisco; No. 14 Buhach Colony-Atwater at No. 3 Yosemite; No. 11 Sonora at No. 6 Head-Royce-Oakland; No. 10 El Dorado-Placerville at No. 7 Shasta-Redding; No. 15 Miramonte-Orinda at No. 2 Los Gatos.
No. 16 Aquinas-San Bernardino at No. 1 Point Loma-San Diego; No. 9 Redwood at No. 8 Quartz Hill; No. 12 El Camino Real-Woodland Hills at No. 5 Mission Oak; No. 13 San Pedro at No. 4 La Reina-Thousand Oaks; No. 14 Narbonne-Harbor City at No. 3 Sonora-La Habra; No. 11 Notre Dame-Riverside at No. 6 Poway; No. 10 Loma Linda Academy at No. 7 San Marcos; No. 15 Ontario Christian at No. 2 St. Paul-Santa Fe Springs.
No. 16 Pierce-Arbuckle at No. 1 Presentation-San Jose; No. 9 Manteca at No. 8 Liberty-Madera Ranchos; No. 12 Bret Harte-Angels Camp at No. 5 Newark Memorial; No. 13 San Francisco Waldorf at No. 4 Soquel; No. 14 Miramonte-Orinda at No. 3 West Valley-Cottonwood; No. 11 Capital Christian-San Francisco at No. 6 Carondelet-Concord; No. 10 Willows at No. 7 Colfax; No. 15 University Prep-Redding at No. 2 Del Norte-Crescent City.
No. 16 Verdugo Hills-Tujunga at No. 1 University City-San Diego; No. 9 Colony-Ontario at No. 8 Immanuel; No. 12 Capistrano Valley Christian-San Juan Capistrano at No. 5 Pacific Ridge-Carlsbad; No. 13 Malibu at No. 4 Foothill Tech-Ventura; No. 14 Upland Christian Academy at No. 3 Rancho Bernardo-San Diego; No. 11 Buckley-Sherman Oaks at No. 6 Helix-San Diego; No. 10 Heritage Christian-Northridge at No. 7 Vista; No. 15 Chatsworth at No. 2 Archer School for Girls-Los Angeles.
No. 9 Union Mine-El Dorado at No. 9 Oakland Tech; No. 12 Golden Sierra-Garden Valley at No. 5 Colusa; No. 13 Skyline-Oakland at No. 4 Berean Christian-Walnut Creek; No. 11 Escalon at No. 6 Justin-Siena-Napa; No. 10 East Nicolaus at No. 7 Clear Lake; No. 15 Bradshaw Christian-Sacramento at No. 2 Durham.
Bye: No. 1 San Marin-Novato; No. 3 Mt. Madonna-Watsonville
No. 9 Excelsior Charter-Victorville at No. 8 Maywood CES-Los Angeles; No. 12 Lone Pine at No. 5 Santa Clarita Christian; No. 13 Sierra Pacific at No. 4 Carnegie Schools-Riverside; No. 14 Sherman Indian-Riverside at No. 3 Central City Value-Los Angeles; No. 11 Mammoth-Mammoth Lakes at No. 6 California City; No. 10 Liberty Charter-Lemon Grove at No. 7 Faith Baptist-Canoga Park; No. 15 Lakeview Charter-Sylmar at No. 2 Marantha Christian-San Diego.
Bye: No. 1 Glendale Adventist