Why sports are great: An epic third game

Posted by Staff Writer Eric Branch:
This is cliche, but it’s true: One of the great things about sports is that you never know what’s going to happen. You never know when you might see something that you’ve never seen before.
A running back could gain 407 yards. Or a pitcher could strike out four batters in an inning. Or a fan could make a half-court shot at halftime and win a college tuition. Or an athlete could have a move, a pass, or a catch so out-of-this-world that it will leave your jaw on the floor.
Well, I had that kind of experience tonight. I saw Petaluma beat Maria Carrillo, 34-32, in the third game of the Trojans’ four-game win in the North Coast Section Division II semifinals.
Petaluma trailed 21-12, but stormed back to win 12 of the next 13 points. Then Maria Carrillo fought off nine match points. Then the Trojans escaped two match points before star outside hitter Kaitlyn Dunaway finished the game with one of her 20 kills.
During the last 20 or so points, there were almost no errors. No choke-job serves into the net. No tentative swings. Just thunderous kills, did-you-see-that digs and rallies that made your palms sweat even if, like me, you weren’t rooting for one team to win.
When the fans weren’t screaming, they were sharing can-you-believe-this looks. I swear even one of the linesemen was smiling through his whistle after another ridiculous rally.
At one point, a guy behind me summed up what everyone was thinking, “This is crazy,” he said.
Yes, it was crazy. And wonderful. And the best Petaluma coach Ben Stern has ever witnessed.
“Toward the end of that game was the most exciting volleyball I’ve ever seen — high school, college or professional,” Stern said.
Maybe that sounds like hyperbole from a winning coach.
But I disagree. I was there.
Lucky me.