By Jeremy Balan
College Prep of Oakland showed glimpses of promise against University in the second round of the North Coast Section Division V playoffs on Saturday night.
Once the Red Devils got going, however, College Prep couldn’t stop the bleeding.
In each game of its 25-9, 25-22, 25-14 win over the visiting Cougars, second-seeded University went on multiple extended runs and capitalized on frequent College Prep mistakes.
“Along with teaching them skills and technique, we’ve also worked on getting them mentally prepared for these games,” said University assistant coach Julia Quijano, who was serving as head coach in the absence of Nicole Schott. “They’ve done a really good job of regaining control in those situations.”
The Red Devils (25-9) rode strong serving performances from freshman Maddy Chung and senior Pauline Ryan, who combined for seven aces, and got a match-high nine kills from senior outside hitter Katherine Evers.
“We really have a great team this year and we’re really gelling at each position,” Evers said. “We have great hitters, a great setter and great defenders, so we’re really excited and we think we can go far this year.”
The Red Devils controlled the first game from the start, and built another big lead in the second game when a 7-1 run pushed the University advantage to 19-9. The Cougars (23-10) rallied back though, and cut the lead to 23-21, but could not overcome the large deficit.
The Cougars kept the third game tight early, but after tying the game 10-10, University went on a 15-4 run to end the game and the match.
Senior libero Julia Moradian led the Cougars with 21 digs and College Prep’s defensive game plan frustrated the University hitters momentarily, but the Red Devils wore down the Cougars back row with continuous attacks.
“They’re just good,” said College Prep head coach Blair Sly. “Our whole game plan is defense and digging. That’s our game, but offensively, we just couldn’t get it going.”
The Red Devils advance to face third-seeded St. Joseph Notre Dame in the semifinals on Wednesday, and Sly feels they have an opportunity to knock off Division V power Branson in a potential championship game.
“They have a shot,” Sly said. “Obviously, Branson is one of the best teams in all divisions of the NCS, but [University] looks really good. These guys can hang with some of the top teams in the Bay Area.”