Former Analy star comes up big for SRJC volleyball team

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The smallest girl on the court, 5-foot-0 Chelsea McCown came up huge Saturday night as Santa Rosa JC’s volleyball team rallied to defeat Foothill in the second round of the CCAA NorCal Regionals at Haehl Pavilion.

McCown, a defensive specialist from Analy High, made save-after-save to keep the Bear Cubs in points after losing the first set. McCown managed 22 digs as often times she went to the ground diving for balls.

The victory means Santa Rosa is one game away from a trip to the State Championship. The Bear Cubs,13-0 at home, will play host to either No. 3 seed Fresno City or No. 11 De Anza on at 7 p.m. Tuesday, The winner will be one of two Northern California teams in the final four.

The state title will be decided Dec. 4-5 at Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga.

Santa Rosa had a few anxious moments against Foothill. The Bear Cubs dropped the first set (25-23) before winning the next three, 25-15, 25-21 and 25-17.

Early in the second set, as Santa Rosa was trying to square the match, McCown managed to keep spike shots by the Foothill front line alive. After helping the Bear Cubs take a 16-10 lead in the second, McCown showed she’s equally adept serving. Her ball placement caught the Owls out of position and her team scored six straight points while coasting to the second set.

“We were all relieved to get that second game,” McCown said. “We were able to carry that momentum through the next two sets. I was glad I played well enough to help us win.”
McCown has been playing volleyball since the sixth grade and she’s the same height now as she was then.

When asked if she wished she’d grown tall enough to play a position besides defensive specialist, McCown replied:“I love denying the other team points, so I’m happy that I’ve been able to play this role all these years. Being our team’s defensive specialist, I try to anticipate where the other team’s going to hit the ball and then be in a position to hit the ball up to a setter.

“That’s what I do best and if anything, my height makes that easier.”

Santa Rosa, now on a 14-match win streak, came in seeded No. 2 and Foothill was No. 7. The Bear Cubs had also beaten the Eagles on Sept. 3. When Foothill won the first set, coach Kelly Wood tried to calm her girls’ nerves.

“I could tell they were up-tight,” Wood said. “I said ‘We’ve just shown them our D- game and they only beat us by two points. Let’s go out there and play like we can.’”

The message got through. After Santa Rosa won the second set in convincing manner, Foothill was hanging close midway through the third before Santa Rosa scored 10 of the last 17 points.

The Los Altos team made numerous unforced errors in the fourth set as the Bear Cubs grabbed a 10-4 lead. The margin grew to 17-6 and from that point, the home team was able to coast. The match ended on an Owls service fault.

Taylor Nelson, a Windsor High alum, led the Santa Rosa power game with 18 kills. Danielle Healis had 12, Rancho Cotate’s Karimah Hay 9 and Analy’s Laura Young 7.

Setter Sam Siebert, the third Analy player on the team, had a big night with 36 assists, 10 digs and 2 blocks.