Girls’ varsity volleyball takes frustrating NCS playoff loss against Marin Catholic

Processing the heartbreaking loss, Jaden Hendrickson watches MC celebrate their victory.

On Nov. 2, the girls’ varsity volleyball team suffered an unfortunate North Coast Section (NCS) semifinals loss against Marin Catholic (MC).

The Giants came into this game with high expectations, coming off a 3-0 win against Northgate in the quarterfinals of the NCS playoffs. Their matchup against MC was their first since Oct. 7th, where they achieved their first win against MC since 2015. However, the team was unable to replicate that same success, and fell to MC in four sets.

Redwood senior and middle blocker Lola Folk explains the heightened intensity surrounding this game.

“We’ve always had a rivalry with MC and we lost a lot in the last few years. In the beginning of the season, we beat them and we really wanted to beat them again. We just got in our heads and that’s why we lost,” Folk said.

Redwood got off to a hot start, going on a 5-1 run to open up the first set. MC evened the score back up at 6-6, but after timely big plays with a block and two kills by senior and setter Kaley Matthews, the Giants pulled away to win the first set 25-20.

The second set was hard-fought, with many lead changes. Redwood took the lead 17-14, and MC took a timeout, which prompted playful heckling from Redwood students, telling MC to stop calling so many timeouts.

However, the MC timeout proved to be effective in stopping the Giants run as MC took a 24-19 lead, right on the brink of winning the set.

Senior and outside hitter Kate Giang reasoned that the teams’ increased emotions ultimately caused them to lose their focus during stretches of the game. 

“It was a very emotional game, there was a lot of frustration, and a lot of excitement … In the second set, we could have calmed down and focused more,” Giang said. “At the end of the second set, [we regained our] focus.”

With renewed focus, Redwood started to come back, making the score 24-22, with MC having just a two point advantage. However, it was too late, as MC came out with the win in the second set 25-22. By the third set, the momentum had shifted as the Redwood student section was quieted, while the MC fans brought increased energy. 

Assistant coach Seth Coulman attributed the loss to the team’s mental shortcomings.

“[Marin Catholic] didn’t make any adjustments, they just kept pushing, and today we didn’t execute,” Coulman said. “We got in our heads about the little things, it was for sure more of a [mental thing].”

As the frustration built up, the Giants struggled with their passing, and the MC serves forced a lot of out of system plays. The Giants weren’t able to get their offense going, as they had to scramble to recover after poor passes. One specific play, which resulted in an MC point, was particularly disheartening for Redwood.

Forming a formidable block, Emma McDermott and Lola Folk go airborne.

 “There was a really long rally and we were fighting really hard, Emma [McDermott] ran off the court to save the ball. [The point] ended with [MC] getting a kill. We worked really hard for that point [and weren’t able to win it],” Giang said. 

Redwood suffered a crushing blow in the third set, losing 25-16. The Giants were not able to bounce back from this wide margin of defeat, ultimately losing the fourth and final set with a score of 25-20, leaving Redwood fans stunned. 

Despite the loss, senior Kaley Matthews had a strong performance, highlighted by her 5 kills where she made multiple effective setter dumps that bamboozled the MC defenders, always finding the uncovered areas of the court.

“[Despite the loss,] Kaley Matthews did a really good job with setting and leading the team,” Folk said.

While Redwood’s NCS run is over, the Giants will look to defend their Division II State Championship, with the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) state playoffs starting next week.