"Come ahead from behind?" Say what? Strange as it sounds, that's what happened, as the Dons (34-5) trailed late in the two games it won, before rallying to win. But in the rally-scored fifth game, where points were scored on every serve, a comeback was hard to fashion. With Nicole Ridley serving, St. Joseph (23-10) got a tip and block by Ashleigh Anderson and a tool from Jamie Blomgren to forge a 9-6 lead that University could not overcome. When Kristina Hoban's spike attempt went long, the Jesters had the game, 15-8, and the match.
"The rally scoring killed us in the fifth game because in every game we played catch up," Drobeck said. "I don't know why CIF does that."
The Dons seemed to make the lion's share of the plays for most of the evening on St. Joseph's home court. In the first game, outside hitter Megan O'Dorisio had two key kills, including the game-winner, as the Dons overcame a 14-12 deficit and three game points against to post the 16-14 win. In Game 3, Hoban had two of her team-high 24 kills and a game-winning block to help University rally from a 13-8 deficit to win 15-13.
The problem was that University also made the lion's share of the mistakes, as St. Joseph displayed poise and great hustling defense that comes with having five seniors on the court.
"We just didn't want to lose," Ridley said. "The seniors didn't want to end our year with a loss."
So, with their backs to the wall in Game 4, the Jesters turned up the defense and turned to Blomgren to lead them to the Southern California final. And that's just what she did. The senior, who has come into her own the last half of the season, started pounding kill after kill, many to secure much needed sideouts. Her biggest of the game came with the Jesters down 11-8. It ignited St. Joseph to seven straight points and the game, setting up the match winning rally in Game 5.
Blomgren paced St. Joseph with 26 kills. Senior middle blocker Jennifer Daniels had 17.
The Jesters play defending state champion Harvard-Westlake on the road Tuesday night. The Wolverines, a talented team that plays only six players, defeated Bishop Montgomery, 15-6, 15-6, 17-15, behind 22 kills from Karalyn Kuchenbecker, 19 from Courtney Schultz and 18 from Terbrie Taylor.
"If we can wear them down, I like our chances," said St. Joseph coach Michael Hinton.
In other action from the Southern California Regional:
Torrey Pines and San Clemente both advanced to the Div. I final Tuesday night at Torrey Pines. The Falcons, led by Michelle Kaufman's 15 kills, six blocks and five aces, overcame Long Beach Wilson 12-15, 15-11, 15-9, 15-10 in a well-played sideout filled match. Freshman Cynthia Barboza led Wilson with 17 kills.
San Clemente traveled to Clovis Buchanan and upset the Bears 15-13, 16-14, 13-15, 7-15, 15-9, earning revenge from last year's humiliating defeat in the first round of the state playoffs last year. The Tritons, behind seniors Katy Daly and Megan Blackshire, scored seven of the final eight points in the rally-scored fifth game to overcome 22 kills from Cassandra Kolkka.
The Div. II final Tuesday at Mater Dei will pit two of the hottest teams in the state. The Monarchs dispatched Irvine 15-5, 15-6, 17-15 last night to get within one game of their first ever state finals appearance. Breegan Mulligan had 13 kills for Mater Dei, while Olivia Waldowski had 16 for Irvine.
Mater Dei will face Mira Costa, a 15-6, 15-8, 15-8 victor over Newport Harbor. The Mustangs used their power, spectacular defense and terrific setting from Nora Pirzynski, who had 52 assists, to upend the Sailors for the second time in a week. Christine Woller's 18 kills led Newport.
In Div. IV, Marymount spread the attack around to defeat St. Margaret's 15-7, 15-9, 15-3 Saturday night. Cara Thompson was the only Sailor in double figures in kills with 12, but three others had at least seven, including setter extraordinaire Haley Jorgensborg. The Sailors Southern California final opponent will be The Bishop's School of La Jolla. The Knights sent Bakersfield Garces packing, 15-4, 15-9, 13-15, 15-8. Veronica Canto-Ponce lad The Bishop's with 16 kills, while Jenny McReynolds had 13. Katie LeBeau led Garces with 13 kills.
In Div. V, Immanuel, which beat Tri-City Christian 15-5, 15-12, 15-10, will meet Santa Fe Christian, a 15-9, 15-8, 6-15, 8-15, 15-11 victor over Central Valley Christian.
In the NorCal Regional:
Archbishop Mitty got 25 kills from Tessa Sphar to knock off Hollister 15-5, 15-3, 14-16, 15-6 in one Div. I semifinal. Tuesday night, the Monarchs host Davis, which is led by Jackie Davis and Elisa Pehlke. The Blue Devils defeated Pleasant Valley 15-3, 14-16, 15-11, 15-11, getting strong play from Sarah Morrill.
The Div. II final will pit powerful St. Francis against a talented Rio Americano squad. The Lancers, ranked No. 2 in the state, dispatched Campolindo 15-2, 15-4, 15-4 behind outstanding passing and team defense and 14 kills from sophomore Diane Copenhagen. Rio Americano had to work a little harder, but got by Carondelet 15-3, 15-13, 15-13. The Raiders' tall front line made the difference. Sara Vercruyssen had 22 kills and 11 blocks for Rio Americano.
Presentation advanced to the Div. III final, using 17 kills from Paris Raissinia to topple St. Francis of Sacramento 15-12, 16-14, 15-3. The Panthers will host El Molino on Tuesday. The Lions got by Enterprise 15-10, 15-8, 15-6. Junior middle Amanda Fox had 23 kills on 37 swings.
Menlo and Golden Sierra are the Div. IV finalists. Freshman Alex Fisher had 13 kills as top-seeded Menlo pounded Clear Lake 15-4, 15-4, 15-4. Golden Sierra whipped Kelseyville 15-4, 15-11, 15-1. The Grizzlies are 31-1.
In Div. V, Ripon Christian beat Forest Lake Christian 16-14, 15-11, 15-1 to make the NorCal finals for the second straight year. But Ripon will have to wait until Monday to learn its opponent. The other semifinal, between defending state champ Woodside Priory and University was postponed due to a power outage.