By TED SILLANPAA
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
HEALDSBURG — Just when Kelseyville High appeared to believe it could pull off an upset, Healdsburg blew away any such notions.
The Greyhounds broke a 21-21 tie and pulled out a tense 25-21 win in the second game Tuesday to then roll to an easy match victory in the first round of North Coast Section Division 4 play.
Healdsburg won the first game 25-14, then cruised home with a lopsided 25-10 victory in the third to win the match and advance to the volleyball quarterfinals on Saturday.
Kelseyville junior Jeannie Johnson had a tip winner to cut what had been a seven-point deficit to a 21-18 Healdsburg lead in the second game. After Healdsburg served into the net, Bonnie McCallister’s winner pulled the Knights to within 21-20.
“We’re a small school from a small league coming to play a bigger school from a bigger league,” Johnson said of the matchup between her North Central League I Knights and the Sonoma County League’s Healdsburg. “It is intimidating, but my teammates played hard. We fought back.”
Johnson got to the net to end a rally with a kill shot that tied the match at 21-21 and, briefly, quieted a raucous Healdsburg crowd.
“We took a timeout when they tied and just took a deep breath,” said Healdsburg’s junior star Emma Tynan of a break in the action with Kelseyville on the verge of taking a lead. “We just talked about working together, like a team, and doing what we normally do. We weren’t worried. We just wanted to do what we always do.”
Healdsburg sophomore Julia Somers did, indeed, do what she’d been doing all evening. She reached the net and slammed home a kill shot on the first point after the timeout to give the Hounds a 22-21 edge that started an avalanche that buried the Knights.
Tynan, the star who heard her name chanted throughout the win by a boisterous Healdsburg student cheering section, served out the second game with a four-point run.
“We love playing at home,” Tynan said. “Our crowd really keeps us energized. We go to schools where it’s only parents in the stands and it’s quiet. Playing here with our fans is a real advantage for us.”
Bianca Nicastro, Ursula Lopez and the omnipresent Tynan started the third game by serving Healdsburg to a 9-3 lead. Somers had a kill off a Tynan set. Tynan dinked a winner to go with a kill from Lizzouli Vega. Tynan served two aces in the run. Vega’s spike off a Kelseyville serve upped the lead to 10-3.
The Greyhounds outscored the Knights 14-3 after Kelseyville tied the second game 21-21.
“I thought we passed the ball pretty well,” Somers, who dominated at the net, said. “Our defense was good. It wasn’t our best match, but we played as a team.”
Healdsburg coach Mike Kamra saw his fifth-seeded Greyhounds improve to 21-10. The 12th-seeded Knights end their season 15-11.
“I’m just really proud of my teammates,” Kelseyville’s Johnson said. “I’m so happy with how the season turned out. We came down here and did our best. Healdsburg has a good team.”
Kamra pointed out that the Greyhounds are a Division 4 title threat in large part because of Tynan’s stellar all-court play.
“Julia (Somers) hit really well tonight, but Emma just plays her tail off,” Kamra said. “She works really hard and she leads our team. She did that tonight.”
Abby McQueen played well at the net for Kelseyville, but the Knights simply can’t match the athleticism and skill Healdsburg runs into in the SCL.
“Playing in the SCL and then playing in the Division 4 playoffs give us a big advantage,” Tynan said. “Division 4 teams have trouble matching up with teams like Petaluma, Analy, Sonoma Valley and the rest. Playing that quality of team all season really helps us when we get to the playoffs.”
Healdsburg will play on Saturday against the winner of the match between No. 4 seed Moreau Catholic and No. 13 McKinleyville.