By Ryan Kuhn
One win separates University High School from their first Bay Counties League West title since 2008, after the Red Devils defeated visiting Lick-Wilmerding 25-16, 25-12, 25-13 in the league semifinals on Thursday.
The University (21-9) win is its third over the Tigers (10-10) this season.
“We have really been stressing how important it is to be disciplined and focused,” said University head coach Nicole Schott. “I think that is really going to take us to the next level in terms of how far we want to go this season. I think we are extremely focused, so I’m pleased where we are at right now.”
University started the match quickly, pouncing on the Tigers early en route to a seven-point lead before Lick was forced to take a time out.
Lick head coach Gary Hodge gathered his team and told them to stay positive.
“Against a team of this caliber, it is hard, because you are going to face a lot of adversity.” Hodge said. “But you have to keep your head up and I thought we did a great job of that.”
Early leads were just two much for Lick-Wilmerding to handle, as they fell behind once again in the second game and much like the first, they could not recover.
University freshman middle blocker Jaelah Hutchison nearly single-handedly put the Tigers away in the second, scoring five of the Red Devils’ last seven points in the game. Hutchison finished with nine total kills in the match.
“We don’t always have the intensity,” Hutchison said. “It comes and goes, but when we really want it, we go all out.”
The Red Devils started the third game hot again, but this time, the Tigers had an answer.
After cutting University’s lead to 10-8, Lick had a chance to turn the momentum in its favor, but a block from University’s Quinlan Low sparked a 13-2 University run that ended the game and the match.
Up next for the Red Devils will be a championship rematch with Marin Academy at Kezar Pavilion on Saturday night.
“We need to control our side of the net and not worry about what our opponent is doing,” Schott said. “I think what the girls need to focus on is [to] not be your own enemy when they break down.”