By Aidan Fitzsimon
FOLSOM — St. Ignatius looked like the better team throughout Tuesday’s CIF State Division III playoff match on the road against Vista del Lago, but the Wildcats ran into standout outside hitter Caroline Sipiora.
The Wildcats had trouble with Sipiora all night and the junior led the Eagles with 22 kills in a 22-25, 25-18, 25-19, 25-27, 18-16 Vista win.
“I couldn’t be any more proud of the way that the girls came out tonight, and had grace and maturity, and held each other up through out the entire match,” said St. Igantius head coach Michelle Rybka.
Sipiora didn’t tally the most kills in the match, but she connected for points at the most crucial moments for the Eagles (36-9).
“As captain, I kind of have to take a leadership role and I embrace it a lot, and I know that when we get into tough situations, they can trust me to put a ball away to keep us in the game,” Sipiora said.
The St. Ignatius (26-13) attack was led by seniors Michellie McDonald-O’Brien, who had a match-high 24 kills, and Claire Healy, who tallied 14.
“St. Ignatius came to play. I mean, they’re a solid team, they’re well coached [and] they gave us everything we could handle,” said Vista head coach Patrick Sanders. “It’s one of those nights where it’s sad to see a loser.”
The match had an astonishing 39 lead changes and momentum constantly shifted back and forth.
Home court advantage was in full effect for the Eagles, which had a loud and raucous cheering section, but the Wildcats also may have fell victim to a bad break.
With the Wildcats leading 16-15 in the fifth game, McDonald-O’Brien appeared to have her 25th kill to seal a St. Ignatius victory, but the line judge did not make a call, leaving the referee with the judgement and he ruled the ball out.
Sipiora then added her 22nd kill of the match and on the final play, St. Ignatius hit a ball out of bounds to seal the Vista victory.