NCS volleyball: Justin-Siena stuns Healdsburg

By ALLIE COLOSKY
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

HEALDSBURG — The crowd fell quiet Wednesday night as a patient tip over the net sealed Healdsburg’s fate in the Division 4 North Coast Section semifinal match, the No. 3 seed Greyhounds falling to No. 7 seed Justin-Siena 25-21, 26-28, 25-27, 13-15.

“We’re not supposed to be here, and going in as the underdogs has helped us,” Justin-Siena coach Tiffany Molinar said. “We didn’t make our league playoffs and I think the girls were a little bit bitter.”

In the first set, the Braves started with all the momentum they had after knocking No. 2 seed Moreau Catholic out of the tournament. They jumped out to a 7-1 lead before Healdsburg coach John Kamra called a timeout.

The Greyhounds chipped away at the Braves’ lead, and forced a Justin-Siena hitting error to tie the game at 17.

Led by Emma Tynan’s strong serving, the Greyhounds took the lead and eventually won the first set 25-21.

“They (Healdsburg) have a great setter who is all over the place, and we don’t put the ball down with the same heat that they do,” Molinar said. “But we don’t give up.”

The start of the second set was similar, Justin-Siena jumping out to a 5-1 lead and forcing a Greyhounds timeout. The Braves maintained their lead, until Tynan set up Lizzouli Vega with the kill and tied the set at 11.

Both teams fought to hold the lead until Justin-Siena made a break for set point to go up 24-20. A scrappy Healdsburg squad clawed its way back, and the match became a battle for set point.

“They played their hearts out and were selling out for every point,” Kamra said of his team. “They did the best job they could.”

The Braves’ Melissa Castellucci found Claire Ballentine for the kill, and the Braves took the second set, 28-26.

Neither the Braves nor the Greyhounds could gain a comfortable lead to start the third set. Healdsburg kept pace with Justin-Siena, pushing the score past match point for the second set in a row.

The Braves eventually scraped out a 27-25 win to lead the Greyhounds 2-1.

Healdsburg, led by Julia Somers with a powerful serve, extended its lead to 20-13 in the fourth set and held off a Justin-Siena rally to win 25-20 and force the fifth and final set.

“Those two have carried our team,” Kamra said.

The combination of Tynan to Somers accounted for 20 of the Greyhounds’ points throughout the match, a duo that has been the foundation for Healdsburg’s success all season, Kamra said.

The Greyhounds started the fifth set with a five-point lead, riding the momentum of their fourth-set win, but the Braves continued to force errors and eventually took the lead 12-7.

Justin-Siena stunned Healdsburg fans as it took the fifth set 15-13 and ruined the Greyhounds’ hopes of reaching the Division 4 final.

Tynan finished with 38 assists for Healdsburg. Somers found the floor for 20 kills and Vega recorded 16 kills. Defensive specialist Ursula Lopez notched 33 digs.

The Braves were led by Ballentine, who finished with 20 kills, while India Medaris contributed five kills. Castellucci finished with 16 assists, and defensive specialists Allison Deming and Katelynn Hayden recorded 27 and 17 digs, respectively.

Justin-Siena now heads to the NCS championship match against St. Patrick/St. Vincent, which beat No. 1 seed Marin Catholic.

“We are feeling confident,” Molinar said. “Not knowing teams has worked for us and I know the coaches, so it’s going to be an exciting game. We’re pretty shocked, but we’re happy to be here.”

 

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