Lady Eagles hang on to beat St. Ignatius in five, advance to NorCal semis

By: Nick Pecoraro/Telegraph Correspondent
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The Vista del Lago volleyball team continued to trek deeper into the postseason than it ever has in its brief five-year history with an exciting and momentous five-set win over St. Ignatius of San Francisco, 22-25, 25-18, 25-19, 25-27 and 18-16. Vista (36-9) lost game one before firmly claiming the second and third games. The final two games had to be settled with extra points. “I haven’t seen too many matches like that before,” said Vista coach Patrick Sanders. “We were in this position last year against a team from this league and we lost 15-13 in the fifth so I know that was on the girls’ minds. They didn’t want that to happen again.” In the fourth game, St. Ignatius’ Michellie McDonald-O’Brien rattled off three straight kills to put Vista in an 11-6 hole early on. After several tough rallies, Vista eventually came back to tie the game at 23. Eagle freshman Kara Campbell put Vista at match point with a kill from fellow freshman setter Faith Smith. St. Ignatius hitter Claire Healy followed with a kill and a block-kill to swing momentum back in the Lady Wildcats favor. St. Ignatius took the next two points to force a fifth game. In game five, both teams split points all the way down to the twelfth point before Campbell again gave Vista a one-point advantage. St. Ignatius fought back and tied the game at 15 and again at 16 after a double hit call. Junior Caroline Sipiora then, as she had all night, blasted a Smith pass through the back row to give Vista the lead back. One Wildcat hitting error later, the Lady Eagles found themselves advancing to the second round of the NorCal tournament as a rowdy Vista crowd mobbed its volleyball team. “We had persistence, we kept as a team and dug down deep and found it within ourselves tonight,” said Sipiora, who led the Lady Eagles with 25 kills and 26 digs. Kelsey Sampson executed on 17 of Smith’s game-high 57 assists, while the freshman Campbell had a career-high 14 kills. “I couldn’t have asked for a better game,” said Campbell. “I was just going up and swinging my hardest, trying to hit around the block and hoping for the best.” “As a freshman, you can get lost in the moment in games like these, but Kara came to play tonight. She really seized the moment and took some big swings for us,” said Sanders of his freshman hitter, which he inserted into the starting lineup midway through the season. Vista will now focus its attention on Saturday’s D-III semifinal matchup at home against Albany. Game time is 7 p.m.