Vikings fall at home in five sets

Matthew Fogarty, Author

The Palo Alto High School Vikings volleyball team (11-4, 1-1) crumbled tonight at home to a Homestead High School Mustangs team (8-6, 1-0) that outlasted them in five sets.

Despite recording close victories earlier in the season, tonight Paly seemed to not be able to handle the pressure of a tight game.

In the fourth set, the Vikings dug themselves into a deep hole and then brought the score to a tie in front of an energized crowd. However, Homestead simply outplayed them in the remaining points that followed as Paly fell 23-25.

The Palo Alto High School volleyball team huddles together after a fourth set loss.  The Vikings eventually went on to win the match (_)
The Palo Alto High School volleyball team huddles together after a fourth set loss. The Vikings fell to the Homestead High School Mustangs in the fifth set to lose the match. Photo by Matthew Fogarty.

“I think we should have put them away in the fourth set,” head coach Dave Winn said.

Their woes continued in the fifth set as the Mustangs brought the game to a 10-10 draw and, with momentum shifting, went on a 5-1 run to take the set and match.

“When you let a good team off the hook and go into a fifth set anything can happen and they played better [than us],” Winn said.

Paly came out flat in the third set with two mishits from junior Jade Schoenberger and senior Becca Raffel.  The Viking squad then dug themselves out of a hole to tie the game and eventually take the lead by a score of 10-9 off of another 4 serves by junior Molly Fogarty and a soaring block from senior Lauren Kerr.  Paly eventually extended their lead to four points off of a serve by senior Keri Gee.

The lead wasn’t enough as Homestead and junior Katie Barker brought the game to a tie at 23 apiece.  As usual, Kerr and Raffel took over with a block and a kill respectively to take the match by two.

In a closely contested  25-22 first set victory, contributions came from all over the court. Fogarty, Paly’s designated server, came off the bench and made three quality serves while seniors Becca Raffel and Lauren Kerr administered their usual dosage of blocks and kills.  The final point of the set came off of a kill from junior Anna Dukovic.

In the second set, Paly had no answer for the net play of Homestead senior Casey Carrol and Barker as the Vikings continuously pounded balls into Homestead’s block, which contributed to their 25-15 set loss.

“Homestead played better,” Winn said. “They executed very well.”

Even in a tough loss Winn found some positives to take into tomorrow’s practice and next week’s games.

“They kept fighting and that’s a good sign,” Winn said.  “They fought all the way until the end against a good team.”

The Vikings will hit the road, next playing at 6:45 p.m. next Thursday as they take on Mountain View High School (2-8).