University Wins One For San Francisco

Moons rise and moons set. University High of San Francisco outside hitter Lauren Moon does neither. But she serves. Boy does she ever. Her net skimming lasers turned around an early Game 1 deficit in Saturday's state Div. V title match against Santa Fe Christian of Solana Beach and sparked the Red Devils to a 15-9, 15-5, 11-15, 15-6 win, the first title for a San Francisco school since 1985.

Trailing 6-2 in the first game against the Eagles, champions of the San Diego section, Moon served six straight points, including three aces, which gave University the lead for good. Santa Fe drew within 10-9 on a Sarah Munoz kill from the back row, but University scored the last five points, including four served by Moon. Her ace at 13-9 put the exclamation point on the 15-9 Game 1 win.

"I usually try to serve pretty hard, " Moon said. "Sometimes my first serve will go into the net and I back off. But I was in the game today."

University built on that momentum in Game 2, racing to an 11-0 lead. Moon, of course, was part of that run, serving five straight points, including a hat trick of aces. She also had the kill that brought the Red Devils to within a point of the win and watched as Carey Myslewski's kill deep in the middle ended the game, 15-5.

Santa Fe Christian, which battled innumerable injuries to reach the final, battled back in Game 3 behind the spirited attack of junior outside hitter Emily Robinson. The 6-footer launched eight kills in the game, including two straight down the line that gave the Eagles a commanding 10-4 lead. Up 11-4, University made a game of it, reeling off seven straight points off the serve of Carolyn Tobkin, including two by Myslewski, the finals MVP, to knot the score. But the Red Devils could not forge ahead. An ace by Alanna Resch sparked Santa Fe's closing four-point run to the game, which ended when Rachel Munoz terminated a short set.

It appeared that the match would go five games when Santa Fe Christian stormed to 5-0 lead, highlighted by another Robinson line shot. But Myslewski and Kathryn McKinley turned the momentum by blocking Robinson for a side out and subsequently scored eight straight points to take control of the match.

"Our goal was to be able to dig No. 9 [Robinson]," said Natalie Engmann, a member of the all-tourney team. "It was really good we could do that and take her out of her game."

Clinging to an 8-6 lead, University ran off the final seven points of the match. Four of those points came on aces, including one by Moon and another, fittingly, on match point by Myslewski.

Engmann led University (31-6) with 18 kills, while Myslewski had 13 kills, seven blocks and two aces. Moon finished with eight aces, while junior setter Hannah Hunt was superb with 41 set assists and nine digs.

The win ends a long drought for San Francisco-area teams, not just in winning state titles, but also in even getting to a state championship match. South San Francisco's loss in 1986 was the last appearance in a state final for any team from the Upper Peninsula, something University knew keenly.

"We play in a small league and they're all rooting for us," Engmann said. "People will look at San Francisco volleyball in a different way."

Robinson paced Santa Fe Christian (25-8), which also was making its first state finals appearance, with 14 kills, while Rachel Munoz added 11 and younger sister Sarah Munoz had nine.

"It was an amazing trip," Sarah Munoz said. "I am so proud of our team. I don't care that we lost. I'm happy that we made it."

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