By Jeremy Balan
After 11th-seeded Mercy-San Francisco upset sixth-seeded Carmel in the first round of the CIF-Central Coast Section Division IV playoffs, the West Bay Athletic League Skyline Division champions got knocked out in the quarterfinals by Mercy-Burlingame 25-15, 25-22, 25-20 on Saturday at Sacred Heart Cathedral.
Skippers (23-10) outside hitter Courtney Sabahi had a team-high six kills and four aces, but no other Skippers’ hitters finished with more than four kills.
“It was a big game for us and it’s Mercy[-Burlingame], so we always want to beat them. We just came a little short,” Sabahi said. “We had confidence coming out of the Carmel game, but we kinda fell apart.”
Skippers hitters struggled throughout due to a dominant Crusaders (25-10) block that had a considerable size advantage over the Skippers.
“[Our block] is something that has been working for us all season,” said Mercy-Burlingame head coach Nga Tran. “We just do really well with that.”
Even though Mercy-Burlingame was clearly the better team on the court, the Skippers showed signs of life in the second and third games. The Skippers erased a nine-point deficit in game two to tie the game at 22-22 and jumped out to a 4-0 lead in game three, but in each instance, the Crusaders responded swiftly and decisively.
“There’s not an easy game in CCS playoffs,” said Mercy-San Francisco head coach Locke Chin. “They’ve improved a lot, though. They’ve come a long way from the first game to now and we’re still a young team.”
Senior outside hitter Samantha Benz led the way for Mercy-Burlingame with a match-high 11 kills and senior middle hitter Mary Alice O’Reilly had eight kills and four blocks. The Crusaders will face Notre Dame-Belmont in the semifinals on Wednesday.
“It’s nice and it’s ideal [to win in three games],” Tran said. “It’s the safest thing. Everybody is still together and still functioning and we’re getting ready for the next match.”