Petaluma-Rocklin: As good as it gets

Posted by Press Democrat correspondent Dewey Forget:
I’ve covered local high school volleyball for the Press Democrat for 13 years. My daughter played volleyball at San Ramon. I covered El Molino in its heyday when Ed “Bear” Grassl took the Lions to the state tournament. I watched Maria Carrillo win section tournaments and CIF/Norcal tournament matches. I’ve covered Analy and Nancy Williams’ outstanding squads.
All of this to point out that the Petaluma-Rocklin match Tuesday was as good as it gets. For sheer drama it was heart-stopping. The competition was fierce; the girls played with such emotion — both Petaluma and Rocklin — and the quality of play was superb. It just doesn’t get any better.
The Trojans and first-year coach Ben Stern, 23, proved their point Tuesday. Stern kept his cool throughout the tense match. His counterpart, veteran coach Dave Muscarella, lost his cool, drawing a yellow-card warning once and then the bench — most likely Muscarella — drew a one-point penalty before the beginning of the 15-point fifth set. Rocklin lost 15-13.
So, maybe the penalty-point didn’t matter, but starting the set already leading and with the serve had to help build the Trojans’ confidence. At least Maddison Eshoo, one of the Petaluma stars, thought so.
I agree with her. No way should that happen, especially from a veteran coach and especially at that moment with the match and the season on the line.
Congratulations to Stern and the formidable Trojans.