An eight-day layoff and a fourth meeting against its fiercest rival weren’t going to be obstacles for Redwood High.
Not when the Rangers have unfinished business in the Central Section volleyball playoffs.
Second-seeded Redwood received 14 kills apiece from Rebekah Cervantes and Chandler McKean en route to a 25-18, 25-21, 25-21 sweep of No. 7 Mt. Whitney on Thursday in a Division II quarterfinals match. The Rangers were D-III runners-up each of the past two seasons before a promotion to D-II.
“I think we can go all the way, I really do,” said Cervantes, who signed a national letter of intent to play softball at Boise State immediately after the match that also saw her record 28 assists and an ace. “We have great chemistry and we do the little things that matter.”
Third-seeded Independence, which swept No. 11 Garces, awaits Redwood in Tuesday’s semifinals, standing as the last hurdle between a third straight section finals appearance for Rangers seniors Cervantes, McKean and Jazmine Gilcrest as well as junior Ashton Peckinpah.
“We haven’t seen Independence, but we can definitely do it,” said McKean, who added 12 digs as well as a block and an ace. “I’m excited to keep going. Our team is really together right now. We want it all. We’re out to win it.”
The Rangers (28-2) trailed in each set but didn’t let that stop them from beating the cross-town rival Pioneers (20-9) for the fourth time this season, including a 18-25, 25-16, 15-9 win at the Hoover tournament as well as 22-25, 25-14, 25-20, 23-25, 17-15 and 25-22, 26-24, 25-12 while going 11-1 to win the West Yosemite League.
“We hadn’t played in over a week, and to have to come out and play your No. 1 rival for a fourth time was hard,” Redwood coach Alana Montgomery. “We respect their program, players and coaches so much. We knew they would be tough and we didn’t take them lightly.”
Mt. Whitney led 5-3 in the the first set before Redwood took control. The Pioneers were up 20-17 in the second but couldn’t hold on then built a 14-8 edge in the third set only to wilt.
“We didn’t want to take them lightly,” McKean said. “We had to come out strong.”
Cervantes pounded the last two of her seven kills in the third set to finish off Mt. Whitney. Then she sat down at the scorer’s table and sealed her commitment to Boise State. Cervantes, who also plays basketball, was The Bee’s Co-Outstanding Softball Hitter after delivering a .619 batting average, 11 home runs and 69 RBIs while helping Redwood capture the D-III title.
Cervantes will join former Central High standout Rachel Rodriguez at Boise State.
“It’s far and out of my comfort zone,” said Cervantes, who also considered Long Beach State and San Diego State, “but the coaches were amazing.”
Redwood also received five kills and four blocks from Brooke Gilcrest, 19 assists and seven digs from Paige Tadeo and 12 assists and 11 digs from Peckinpah.
Payton Trimm and Issabella Luna each had seven kills to lead Mt. Whitney.