By RICHARD J. MARCUS
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The stage is set for the title match showdown between No.1 Anderson Valley and visiting No.2 Rincon Valley Christian in the North Coast Section Division 6 girls volleyball final on Saturday, and it figures to be a battle of contrasting styles.
RVC’s brand of aggressive offense was evident in Wednesday night’s 3-1 (25-16, 26-24, 26-28, 25-20) hard-fought home win in the NCS semifinal against No. 3 California School of the Deaf (Fremont). The RVC Eagles (27-5) did not have an easy time against CSD (22-9).
CSD, also nicknamed the Eagles, was down to match point, 24-23, in the third set but rallied to win the game and force a fourth set, which RVC won 25-20 to seal the match and move on to the title game.
“In set 3 they (CSD) were the ones who knew how to finish,” RVC coach Jim Andrews said. “They (CSD) gave us one of the better battles we have had all year. They put up a good fight. You can see why they are ranked No. 3.”
Saturday’s title game between North Central II league rivals is a rematch of last year’s NCS Division 6 championship match won by ultra defensive-minded Anderson Valley (27-6). The Panthers will attempt to conquer a third consecutive NCS title. The teams split 1-1 during the regular season.
“Am I totally confident … I will tell you ‘yes’ but I have a lot of respect for them,” Andrews said. “It’s going to be a fight and Anderson Valley will bring it. They will play defensively and we will have to out-offense them.”
Andrews said his Eagles would have to improve their serving against Anderson Valley.
“We were just off on our serves tonight,” Andrews said.
RVC was led by outside hitters Hannah Andrews with 18 kills and 15 digs, sister Kierstin Andrews with 8 kills, 16 digs and 5 aces, and setter Tara Tsarnas with 25 assists.
CSD was paced by setter Brianna Dike with 16 assists and hitter Darriyan Thomas with 9 kills and 29 digs.
“She (Thomas) is an amazingly good player,” Andrews said.
Both teams were short a critical player in the match. RVC was missing an outside hitter who went on a family vacation forcing Andrews to create a brand new rotation for the past two NCS games.
“It was hard (with a new rotation), we didn’t like doing it,” Andrews said. “But that’s volleyball and you have to have a deep enough bench to respond to change.”
CSD did not have the depth to overcome the loss of Esperanza Dillard, its senior libero who was out sick for the game.
“Our girls were a little inexperienced without our senior leader,” CSD coach Karina Pedersen said. “Half of our team is freshman and sophomores so to go this far in the NCS and be able to win a game (tonight), I am very proud of them.”
Andrews said in order to avoid car-sickness for his players in the long, winding ride to Anderson Valley, his team will take its time driving up north on Saturday in a calm-before-the-storm strategy.
“The goal this year is to go early, have a picnic and relax before the game,” Andrews said. “It’s going to be full throttle for both teams.”