SCL volleyball tournament: Third time's the charm for Tigers

Tuesday’s games

NBL tournament
Maria Carrillo def. Montgomery 25-15, 25-22, 25-19
Cardinal Newman def. Casa Grande 25-21, 25-20, 25-15

SCL tournament
Analy def. Petaluma 25-20, 25-19, 25-18
Sonoma Valley def. Healdsburg 25-18, 25-23, 25-19

Coming up: Analy plays at Sonoma and Cardinal Newman plays at Maria Carrillo on Thursday.


PETALUMA — It’s tough to beat the same team three times in one season. Just ask the Petaluma girls’ volleyball team.

The host Trojans lost to Analy 25-20, 25-19, 25-18 on Tuesday night in the opening round of the Sonoma County League tournament. Petaluma (19-12 overall, 10-2 SCL) had previously defeated the Tigers (17-9, 8-4) by a 3-0 margin in both of their regular-season matchups.

“We played more relaxed tonight,” Analy coach Holly Folendorf said. “We were tense before the two games we played Petaluma in the regular season.”

The top four teams in the SCL regular-season standings advanced to the SCL tournament and were ranked according to their league finish. Petaluma was ranked second and Analy third. The Tigers move on to play at top-ranked Sonoma Valley (27-6 overall and 11-1 SCL) on Thursday at 7 p.m. for the SCL Tournament championship. Sonoma and Analy split their two regular season meetings.

The Trojans will not play again until the North Coast Section playoffs if they are invited, which is likely.

From the start, Analy came out the more aggressive and energetic team. The Tigers’ assertive play and crispness put the Trojans back on their heels and Analy never let up.

“We just got complacent having beaten them (Analy) twice,” Petaluma coach Christen Hamilton said. “Good for Analy, they turned it up tonight.”

With Game 1 tied 5-5, the Tigers went on a nine-point run for a 14-5 lead and Petaluma couldn’t climb back. Analy’s Maggie VanWeele, who had 15 kills, clinched the 25-20 victory with an unreturned spike that whistled past Trojan defenders.

“That Game 1 run gave us the confidence we needed,” said Analy co-captain Bryce Gevas, who had 23 digs. “We came out really intense and aggressive with the goal of letting nothing hit the floor.”

Game 2 was all Analy until game point. The Tigers built a 24-12 lead before the Trojans went on a seven-point run but the gap was too big for Petaluma to overcome. Analy clinched the game 25-19 on a kill by Ayesha Gulley.

“We just didn’t show up until the second half of all the games,” Hamilton said. “We just couldn’t get in rhythm tonight.”

It was more of the same in Game 3 as Analy broke out to a 17-10 lead and cruised to the 25-18 win. The Tigers’ Abby Groth (23 assists) had a nifty flip over the net that the Trojans couldn’t reach to clinch the win. “We had all of our hitters involved in the game tonight,” Folendorf said. “Petaluma was a little surprised how we came out.”

The Trojans were led by Paula Clarey with 21 digs and seven kills and by Maddie Mehciz with 21 assists, but it wasn’t nearly enough against the feisty Tigers.

“Analy played a lot better than we did tonight. They played a lot cleaner and outhustled us,” Hamilton said. “If they play on Thursday the way they played us tonight, they will give Sonoma a run for their money.”