Taylor Racich sparks Chargers to first TOC title

Taylor Racich of Dos Pueblos knocks down another kill and powers DP to the tourney final. (Vince Agapito Photos)

Taylor Racich received the MVP award at the Tournament of Champions on Saturday after leading Dos Pueblos to its first championship with a 27-25, 25-23, 25-27, 20-25, 15-13 over Marymount at Santa Barbara High’s  J.R. Richards Gym.

Racich led the team with 32 kills and two blocks during the match.

The Chargers began the match with a kill by Sarah McKinny out of the middle. With a kill by Amanda Moriarty DP charged ahead.

McKinny and Taylor Racich blocked for a 7-4 lead. The rallies were long but Sierra Hofstatter had a block on the outside and an error by Marymount gave the Chargers the first game.

DP was back on their heels in the second game with tough serves coming from Marymount. An amazing dig by Katie Spieler allowed Tristan Racich to set her sister Taylor for the kill. That gave the team the momentum it needed and Spieler once again stepped up with an ace to end the second game.

The third set was neck in neck from the beginning. Taylor Racich went up for a solo block and then won a joust, putting the Chargers ahead 20-19. Marymount roared back and won the set.

“I could not find a chink in their passing and we could not get a block up on number 14,” said coach Todd Garrett.

Marymount surged ahead in the fourth set and the Chargers could not catch up to set up a deciding fifth set.

DP's Amanda Moriarty fights to get the ball over the net for another point.

In the beginning of the fifth set, DP seemed to have lost some of its momentum and enthusiasm. Fighting for every point, the Chargers were able to slowly gain it back. Taylor Racich shot a ball down the line at 10-12, giving the Chargers the spark they needed. With a kill by Amanda Moriarity and then by Taylor Racich, the Chargers took the game and match winning the Tournament of Champions for the very first time.“We have been in game threes and fives and have come out victorious in most of them,” said coach Garrett. “These girls are fighters.”

Racich led the Chargers with 32 kills and two kills. Moriarty had 19 kills 2 blocks and 6 digs, Sierra Hofstatter had 6 kills and 18 digs, Sarah McKinny had 5 kills and Katie Spieler had 24 digs.

“We believed in ourselves, we had it in us,” said Maddie Leiphardt.

“We focused our energy,” said Tristan Racich

“Not being scared to be aggressive was the key,” said senior middle blocker Lina Kleinschmidt.

“We talk about family and about us supporting each other and just going out and playing. Our strength comes from our support and our family atmosphere,” said coach Garrett.

Dos Pueblos beat cross-town rival Santa Barbara in the semifinals on Saturday morning, 25-23, 25-19, 20-25, 25-16.

Taylor Racich had 20 kills and Amanda Moriarty had 18 kills and 2 blocks. Katie Spieler had 3 aces and 23 digs.

“We stuck together as a team,” said Garrett.

“DP made plays and we didn’t make the plays we needed to make,” said coach Gannon. “They put a lot of pressure on us, and they make it hard to beat them. They are not gonna give you a game.”

Santa Barbara lost to Corona del Mar in the third-place match, 26-24, 25-20, 25-22.

“We didn’t take care of the ball when we needed to down the stretch,” said coach John Gannon. “We gotta find ways to win, we are still learning how to do that.”

San Marcos split its final two tournament matches. The Royals fell Saint Francis 25-13, 25-21, 25-13 and bounced back to beat Salinas,  25-18, 23-25, 25-22, 25-20, to finish in 15th place. Kristen Berlo had six kills in the first match and 10 against Salinas. Annika Wilson also had 10 kills in the win over Salinas.

Dos Pueblos topped Santa Barbara High in the TOC's semifinals.