Mira Costa High School Volleyball: so close and yet so far away  

MCHS junior setter Charlie Fuerbringer. Photos by Ray Vidal

by Paul Teetor         

The Mira Costa girls volleyball team went into the CIF Division 1 Final Saturday night riding a wave of optimism, and confidence derived from its incredible 36-3 record.

They left Cerritos College little more than an hour later — shocked, heartbroken and deeply disappointed – with a 36-4 record.

It wasn’t just that the top-seeded Mustangs lost to second-seeded Sierra Canyon. They knew they could lose since the teams had split the two matches they played earlier in the season.

But the finality of the straight-set loss by the oh-so-close scores of 28-26, 25-23 and 25-23 hit home when they realized they were not going to bring Costa its first CIF girls title since 2008, when the elite program won the last of its 15 CIF titles.

Equally important, the close-but-convincing loss denied Coach Cam Green his first CIF title as a head coach – the team’s publicly stated goal all season.

MCHS senior opposite hitter Tanon Rosenthal.

There was not much to say after such a crushing loss, but Green said it well.

“Disappointed, heartbreak for the girls because of how hard they worked. We lost to a better team tonight,” Green said. “They were better than us, they were good everywhere. We couldn’t stop anybody. Hats off to them, they played their best match in the biggest game.”

The Mustangs went into the match on an emotional high note after posting a thrilling 5-set win over Mater Dei in the semifinals a week ago, when they recovered from losing the third and fourth sets.

And they had every reason to think they could beat Sierra Canyon, and complete a championship season. After all, back in August at the Ann Kang Invitational in Hawaii the Trailblazers won the best two of three match in pool play two sets to one, but the Mustangs got their revenge by winning the finals in two straight sets.

The first set Saturday night was the most dramatic of the three as the Trailblazers got to a set point at 24-23, but three times they couldn’t close the deal. Finally, SC’s star outside hitter, 6-foot-4 Olivia Babcock, ended the set with a monster kill. Babcock dominated all night, finishing with 22 kills.

“Tonight she was exceptional,” Green said. “She’s such a great athlete, jumps so well, she’s so long, she’s got range, she’s a lot to deal with. We thought we could slow down the other girls, but we couldn’t do a good job of that either. They played phenomenally. When they’re firing on all cylinders like that, they can beat anybody.”

The Mustangs trailed 24-20 in the second set, but rallied to get to 24-23. A service error ended the set, giving Sierra Canyon a 2-0 lead in the match.

The teams were tied at 22-22 in the third set, but Sierra Canyon scored two consecutive points to get to championship point before ending it 25-23.

“I’m proud of our team, we’ve done it all year, this is only the fourth match we’ve lost all season, so I’m incredibly proud of us, our grit, our fight, our determination. It was there all year and tonight we lost to a better team,” Green said.                          

The season will continue for the Mustangs in the CIF State Southern California Regional tournament Wednesday night, November 9, when they will host Newport Harbor as they start their quest for a CIF State title.

Contact: teetor.paul@gmail.com. Follow: @paulteetor ER


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