Royals give No. 2 Marymount a battle before falling in four


There were tears flowing at the San Marcos Thunderhut on Thursday night.

The Royals girls volleyball team was having so much fun and playing so well that it didn’t want the season to end. Facing second-seeded Marymount in the second round of the CIF 1-AA playoffs, the Channel League champions gave every ounce of energy and determination they had to stay alive and pushed the 20th-ranked team in the country. But the Sailors fended off the upset-minded Royals in four tough sets, 25-15, 22-25, 25-19, 25-23.

It was a sterling effort from a San Marcos program that is on its way back to being at the elite level.

“We went into the game knowing it was going to be a challenge, but sometimes that’s almost easier to play,” San Marcos coach Erica Downing said. “We left it on the court; we had great moments. They played their hearts tonight and I, as a coach, can’t ask for anything else.”

Marymount, sparked by the superb setting of Reni Meyer-Whalley, had just too much going offensively for the Royals. Three players, outside hitter Tori Jasuta (12) and middles Kaitlyn Edwards (11) and Ashlie Williams (10), each recorded double figures in kills.

“They’re a really good team,” Downing said. “They’ve been to the playoffs numerous times. Sometimes you come up against big teams and you fall just a little bit short.”

After a rocky first set in which they struggled to pass the tough serving of Marymount, the Royals regrouped and let the Sailors know they, too, can play at a high level.

A stuff block by Kristen Berlo followed by an ace serve from Anika Wilson and a crushing spike by Berlo gave San Marcos a 22-18 lead in the second set. Clare Holehouse served up another ace to make it 24-20. Marymount scored the next two points and San Marcos called a time out. The Sailors served the next ball out to the delight of the roaring Royals fans.

San Marcos kept it close in the third set until Meyer-Whalley ripped back-to-back jump-serve aces for a 14-11 Marymount lead. The Royals fought back and tied the score at 17, but a service error gave the lead back to the Sailors and they never trailed again.

San Marcos continued to battle in the fourth set and got some big plays at the net from Berlo, Emma Harrah and Chloe Allen, and an ace by Andie O’Donnell to open up a 12-6 lead. Chloe Allen’s play was an impressive block on a slide attack by the 6-2 Edwards.

Marymount crept back and pulled to within one at 18-17. San Marcos responded with a three-point run on kills by Katie Kim. Chloe Allen and Berlo. But that would be the last run of points for the Royals.

Marymount took advantage of a string of hitting errors and claimed its first lead of the set at 22-21. A kill by Kim and an error by the Sailors knotted the score at 23-23.

Marymount scored the final two points on a dink by Williams and a block by 6-4 Yaasmeen Bedart-Ghani to end San Marcos’ season and advance to the quarterfinals.

Downing said the experience of playing tough against a top-ranked team in a playoff match is something you can’t teach and is something the players won’t forget.

“It’s an experience they’ll never forget and it will only make us better for next year,” she said.

Berlo and Emily Allen each had seven kills to lead San Marcos. Berlo also had four stuff blocks. Wilson picked up 14 digs and Emily Allen had seven to pace the defense.

For Marymount, libero Tori Shepherd had 15 digs and Meyer-Whalley served four aces and dished out 36 assists.

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