Volleyball Recap: Vikings defeat Sequoia in three sets

Matthew Fogarty, Author

Sophomore Jade Schoenberger celebrates a kill in the second game of Paly’s straight-set victory over Sequoia High School in the CCS playoffs on Saturday night. Photo by Matt Ersted.

As the ball hit the floor off a spike attempt by junior Becca Raffel, the Palo Alto High School Vikings took the third and final set of a well-contested matchup. The Vikings (27-6) defeated the Sequoia High School Cherokees (28-7) in three sets to keep their hopes alive for a third straight Central Coast Section championship and state championship.

Senior Shelby Knowles led the Vikings in kills, and impressed one of the largest and loudest crowds Paly had played in front of all season.

“Whenever she [Knowles] needs to be clutch, she’s clutch, but that’s not the best we’re going to see from Shelby hopefully in the playoffs,” Vikings head coach Dave Winn said.

The Vikings had high expectations coming off of a first round bye with plenty of time to prepare.

“I think we have a very good chance at winning, we have been working all year to get to the playoffs, ” senior captain Sophia Bono said.  “This week we have been really focusing on being aggressive on defense and making sure we all give it 100 percent when we go for a ball.”

The first set started off slowly as the Vikings had problems serving, which kept the game close. Junior Keri Gee missed a serve early and failed to find the other side of the net on her second attempt later in the set.

The Cherokees, Cinderellas of the tournament, had not played in a CCS playoff match in more than four years, and seemed to have turned their program around.  They gave Paly a tough first set, but fell short in a 25-22 defeat.

The Vikings came out for the second game poised for success. The beginning of the set was tightly contested with a Paly lead of only 5-4, but strong serves by sophomores Molly Fogarty and Anna Dukovic crossed the net, contributing to four key scores that cushioned the Viking lead.

“We got off to a slow start, but we picked it up and the second game was really good,” Bono said.

The Vikings went ahead 11-6 and did not look back from that point as they went on a 14-5 run to take the set.

Sequoia wasn’t going to let its season end without a fight.  It jumped ahead 5-1 backed by strong play from their its front line and the score remained close for the rest of the set. The Vikings, however, were too much for Sequoia as they took the third set to complete the three game sweep.

“That’s a good win,” Winn said. “Any win in the playoffs is a good win. They’re a good team, there’s a reason why they did so well this year.”

The Vikings look to continue their season as they move on to the CCS semifinals to face the Homestead High School Mustangs at 7:30 p.m. this Wednesday at Santa Clara High School. Paly is 3-0 versus Homestead so far this season, but the two teams tied atop the SCVAL De Anza Division in the regular season.