GVB: Cate tops Laguna Blanca in No. 1 vs No. 2 clash

Laguna Blanca’s string of 11 straight Condor League championships is on shaky ground after Saturday’s?25-19, 25-22, 23-25, 25-18 setback to Cate in a match that featured the top two teams in CIF-ss Division 4-A.

The Rams can become the first Condor League school other than the Owls to win an outright league title since 2001 with a win at Laguna Blanca on November 6 in the final match of the regular season. That’s assuming both of the elite teams win their other league matches.

Hannah White - Laguna Blanca girls volleyball

Laguna Blanca’s Hannah White hits down the line past Cate blocker Maddie Becker

“It’s so exciting. I mean since freshman year this has been the goal kind of, and it’s so great to have it come alive and be true,” said Cate’s Cydney Pierce.

Sophomore Peyton Shelburne led the Rams with 17 kills while middles Tamsyn Walker and Delaney Mayfield added nine each.

“I thought they out-ball controlled us tonight,” said Laguna Blanca head coach Jim Alzina. “It seemed like every ball they touched went up right where they wanted it to.

“Both teams fought real hard, I just thought their ball control was a little bit better.”

A large crowd was entertained by plenty of long rallies, hard hitting and great digs by the two teams.

“I like having the competition,” Alzina said. “They’re a great team. It’s a game we can get up for now every time we play them so it’s fun.”

Rams head coach Greg Novak agreed.

“It creates a great rivalry. There was a lot of buzz going into this game and it’s good that we have that going on.”

Much of the buzz was created by the No. 1 vs. No. 2 dynamic.

“We haven’t been ranked for a really long time, so coming into the season and being ranked No. 3 when we started, and now being ranked probably No. 1 it’s just so exciting,” said Rams senior Ellen Lempres.

Cate led for all but four points during the first set but needed to rally in the second set after trailing for most of it. Laguna led 15-10 when Cate put together a 10-2 run that put the Rams ahead for good.

“That was a bit of a momentum game,” Alzina said.

Laguna Blanca was still able to regroup and win set three. The Owls fought off another rally in the third set to avoid the sweep. Setter Clara Madsen fed the hot hands of Phoebe Madsen and Hannah White while Luisa Cameron patrolled the net.

Cate closed the door in the fourth set and said afterward that the confidence level is high for the program.

“At first the team wanted to play Thacher because that was their rival and they bowed down to Laguna, and now they’re gaining confidence to compete with Laguna,” Novak said.