By PETER FOURNIER
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Montgomery High girls volleyball coach Koy Stewart said he just looks at one game at a time, so the fact that Cardinal Newman had only lost two sets this year before Thursday night’s match probably didn’t cross his mind.
After the Vikings topped the Cardinals in four sets 25-23, 19-25, 25-23, 25-15, it appeared Stewart’s team was the one that had previously been undefeated.
“We did some stuff that was really good on the court and they did as well,” Stewart said. “It was a toss-up here and there.”
The Vikings (6-4, 1-0 North Bay League) trailed for most of the first set after taking an early 3-0 lead.
Montgomery inched closer to the Cardinals (4-1, 1-1), who extended their lead to five points, before final tying them at 23-23. Montgomery would then win the next two points to take the set, the final point coming on a Regina Pigsley serve that Cardinals setter Jessica Matsuda couldn’t dig out.
“The game of volleyball, especially in high school, comes down to serving,” Stewart said. “I think the team that can serve consistently … is going to come out on top.”
The Cardinals won the second set after pulling out to a five-point lead that the Vikings couldn’t catch up to. Stewart said the entire match was close.
“The lead changed three or four times during that second game,” he said.
“I think the ball fell our way sometimes and our girls worked hard.”
Montgomery’s Hannah McGary had 14 kills and recorded four aces, and called the victory the biggest one this year.
She credited her passers and setters with doing an excellent job of getting the ball into the middle of the court to set up her kill shots.
“It feels really good because we’ve lost to them in previous years … we’ve definitely worked hard, played hard and tried hard for it,” she said.
The Vikings took control of the third set after taking a 6-5 lead and held off a late Cardinals rally to take a 2-1 lead in sets. Montgomery went on a 13-4 run to finish the fourth set and win the match.
“They took us out of our system of play for sure and we made a lot of unforced errors, a lot,” Cardinals coach Anna Waller said.
“Things that we can control, we gave them too much.”
Waller said unforced, serving and passing errors made the difference.
“In volleyball, if your defense breaks down, it kind of breaks down your whole system of play,” she said.
Cardinal Newman plays at Maria Carrillo at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Montgomery hosts Casa Grande on at 5 p.m. Tuesday.