By Ryan Kuhn
St. Ignatius had no trouble winning their Central Coast Section quarterfinal match on Thursday, sweeping visiting Hillsdale High School of San Mateo 25-17, 25-11, 25-14.
The third-seeded Wildcats (25-11) lead wire-to-wire in all three games and will advance to face second-seeded Aptos in the Division III semifinals next week.
With some players finally back from injuries suffered earlier in the season, St. Ignatius head coach Michelle Rybka took advantage of the opportunity to try some new things.
“It was a good opportunity to see some new combinations and try some new plays,” Rybka said. “It was a big stepping stone for us.”
Catherine Dumont and Madelyn Welsh, who have been sidelined for about a month, both were able to play in the third game. Welsh finished with four kills and Dumont scored an ace.
Senior outside hitter Claire Healy was the main target for the St. Ignatius offense and led the Wildcats with a match-high 11 kills.
“Claire is an outstanding athlete and I think that tonight really highlighted that,” Rybka said. “I gave her the opportunity to really take full advantage of the technical skill and the power she has.”
The St. Ignatius defense was also strong on Thursday, holding Hillsdale (19-10) to only 15 total kills in the match.
“We have definitely come into our own,” Healy said. “We have to take charge and take control of the game. We can’t let other teams take advantage.”
The defending CCS champions will now have to venture down to neutral site Valley Christian of San Jose for the semifinals and will look too carry the momentum gained in the quarterfinals.
“I think for us, it is about peaking and building momentum,” Rybka said. “We are definitely headed in the right direction and [in] every game [we want to get stronger] than the last.”