Prep report: Volleyball surprises
Perhaps the Gunn girls volleyball team just needed someone to come along and tell them they were good enough and people liked them.
The small but energetic group of Gunn students on hand sure had fun showing the Titans how much they liked the effort on the court in surprising defending NorCal Division II champion Sacred Heart Prep, 24-26, 25-19, 15-25, 28-26, 15-11, Thursday night in a nonleague match.
First-year coach Baiba McGibben told them they were good enough, despite last year’s losing record (8-18) and the Titans are starting to believe.
“We’re making the most of our time and working hard together,” Gunn senior co-captain Monica Crichton said. “This year’s team has positive energy and we’re supportive of each other.”
There were several key moments in Thursday’s match. Gunn (3-6) held a 24-21 lead in the first set before the Gators (5-6) recorded five straight points and could have folded. Instead the Titans rallied to win the second set.
Sacred Heart Prep completely dominated the third set, putting the Titans on their heels. They may have been knocked back but they weren’t knocked out.
The Gators served for match point at 26-25 in the fourth set and it was Gunn’s turn to rally and win, sending it to a fifth set.
Gunn opened a 10-7 lead and then saw SH Prep rally to within 11-10 before winning four of the final five points.
“We took a step forward and laid down a stone,” McGibben said. “We’re ready to go from here. Our biggest struggle in believing in ourselves. They weren’t successful last year but it’s a different year. We’ve been mixing and matching different combinations and we’ve found where we want to be. Now, the sky’s the limit.”
Gunn recorded 17 aces in the match, with Ana Duboiss serving up six and Crichton adding five. Rachel Grant contributed four. Grant, Crichton and Odeya Russo took turns supplying kills and libero Livia Bednarz got plenty of defensive help from Micaela Leong.
“It’s really helped with a new coach and strong players coming up,” Crichton said. “It all ties together. I’m excited to see Gunn making a comeback and am excited about the future.”
SHP is still without experienced front row player Alexa Bartlett but Gators coach Allison Magner is not one for excuses.
“You can never say it’s one person,” she said. “It just wasn’t Gator volleyball. Our middles are playing phenomenal. We had a lot of self-inflicted mistakes and they executed their game plan better. There are highs and lows and it’s how you deal with it.”
Reagan Smith led the Bears with 15 kills while Ally Polverari added 12 kills, 10 digs and five aces. Leia Bonifacio added 13 digs.
Freshman setter Millie Muir has seamlessly fit into the Gators’ scheme. She produced 46 assists and 13 digs and displayed leadership qualities.
“She’s been truly incredible to watch,” Magner said. “Age doesn’t matter. She’s a true leader, intelligent and a hard worker.”
Sacred Heart Prep doesn’t have much time to wallow in the loss. The Gators host Valley Christian at 3:30 p.m. Friday. The Warriors (3-4) are coming off a sweep of Menlo-Atherton and beat Burlingame at Spikefest.
Gunn has a match scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday at Menlo School.