GVB: Cate survives five-set match in state tournament opener

Cate won its first state tournament match in the Central Valley farming town of Fowler.

Cate won its first state tournament match in the Central Valley farming town of Fowler.

Cate’s trip to Fowler for its CIF State Girls Volleyball Tournament opener was a wild one. The Rams went five sets with the Redcats, overcoming a 9-4 deficit in fifth set to pull out a victory on Tuesday night in the Central Valley.

The Rams defeated the Central Section Division 4 champions 25-19, 18-25, 26-24, 11-25, 15-12 and earned a shot at La Reina on Saturday in a quarterfinal match in Thousand Oaks. La Reina is the CIF Southern Section’s Division 4AA runner-up while Cate is the 4A champion.

Fowler played stellar defense, picking several kill attempts from Cate’s normally potent attack from the left side.

“Defensively, they were awesome,” Cate coach Greg Novak said. “They were making amazing sprawls, digging Peyton (Shelburne) pretty well.”

Fowler also gave Cate trouble from the service line. “Their serving game was phenomenal. They probably had 15 aces on us. Their No. 4 (Elicia Hammer) was a great server. She had eight aces.”

Maddie Becker picked up the slack for Cate’s attack, pounding the ball from the right side. The Rams also got production from middles Ciena Smiley and Lydia McMahon.”

Novak said the absence of starting middle Xandrine Griffin (traveled home for the holiday) and Delaney Mayfield playing while fighting an illness had an effect on the team’s play.

“We weren’t running on all cylinders; everything was just off,” he said.

Cate dug deep in the fifth set and roared back. Hannah Bowlin reeled off some tough serves that had Fowler scrambling and Shelburne caught fire at the net, blasting away spikes for points.

The Rams escaped with the victory to keep their season going.