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Volleyball roundup: Santa Rosa, Casa Grande win as games return

Maria Carrillo's Lindsay Heller (8), center, celebrates a point won for the Pumas during a varsity volleyball match between Maria Carrillo and Casa Grande high schools in Petaluma on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017. (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)

RICHARD J. MARCUS,

After almost more than two weeks off due to this month’s deadly wildfires, volleyball was back on Tuesday night around the Redwood Empire. In the North Bay League, the three league games that were missed during the hiatus will not be made up, while the remaining three games on the docket will be all played this week.

Meanwhile, Santa Rosa wrapped up the NBL title with an easy 3-0 win (25-18, 25-17, 27-25) against Cardinal Newman. The Panthers (9-0, 13-1) are undefeated in league play with two games left. The Cardinals (5-4, 15-10) fall back to fourth place in the standings.

While Cardinal Newman’s gym has still not been cleared for activities by safety officials, Santa Rosa’s gym was OK’d on Monday as air quality has improved. Nonetheless, the teams decided to keep the game at Windsor, per an agreement earlier in the week.

“My girls had a lot of fun tonight,” Santa Rosa coach Amber Oden said. “I don’t want to diminish what has happened, and it’s tragic, but for the girls to be able to focus on having fun for a couple of hours felt really nice.”

The Panthers were led by Isa Ponce (6 kills, 6 blocks), Sophia Oden (4 kills, 2 aces, 10 assists) and Makenzie Oden (8 kills and 11 assists).

For Cardinal Newman, things have been difficult since a large portion of the school was burned in the fires.

“It’s been a tough couple of weeks and not being able to be in our own gym and in front of our fans has been hard,” Cardinal Newman coach Jeff Nielson said. “We have had so many other things to think about that are more important that it’s been hard to focus.”

Oden said her girls came out with a sense of purpose on Tuesday night.

“They knew exactly what they needed to do and they had each other’s backs,” Oden said. “Especially being back after the break, I am so proud of my team’s mindset. The girls were very focused.”

Casa Grande 3, Maria Carrillo 0

The Pumas (6-3, 9-13) were upset 25-10, 25-21, 25-18 on the road by the Gauchos in a game that was tough emotionally for Maria Carrillo, according to Pumas coach Ally Deal, as four of Maria Carrillo’s 16 varsity players lost houses in the fire.

“Our team was emotionally exhausted and trying to get them to rally was pretty tough,” Deal said. “We lacked energy and we looked like a team which hadn’t touched a ball in over two weeks, which we hadn’t. We looked rusty and Casa looked fine-tuned.”

Casa Grande (4-5, 7-9) coach Amber Taylor agreed that the Gauchos were sharper because they had an extra week of practice versus the Pumas.

“We were practicing for a full week more than Maria and that did play into it,” Taylor said. “But we have been working a lot on our offense and perfecting our defense. Our passing went right tonight and our serve was very tough.”

The Gauchos defeated the Pumas in five games the first time the teams squared off. Maria Carrillo remains in a tie for second place with Montgomery while Casa Grande is in the middle of the pack in the NBL.

Montgomery 3, Rancho Cotate 0

The Vikings (6-3, 16-7) played a home game at the Cougars’ gym since Montgomery’s gym is still closed, but that didn’t slow down the Vikings one bit in a 25-17, 25-15, 25-8 victory.

“Surprisingly, we weren’t rusty. I didn’t have a ton of expectations since Monday night was our first practice in over two weeks,” Montgomery coach Becky Stavropoulos said. “We had good ball control and we played pretty clean volleyball all night, which was a nice surprise given what has happened.”

Montgomery dominated last-place Rancho Cotate 3-1 in the first meeting, and the rematch was more of the same.

“We ran out of energy during the last part of the match. Our passing failed us a little bit,” Cougars (0-9, 7-17) coach Jeff Bradshaw said. “Montgomery out-schemed us in the second and third sets with a real quick offense and they started getting more precise with their serves.”

The Vikings were led by Hannah White (12 kills, 3 blocks) and Kailey MacKinnon (13 kills).

Windsor 3, Ukiah 0

The visiting Jaguars (5-4, 9-8) had their best match of the season according to Windsor coach Rich Schwarz, winning 25-19, 25-12, 25-20.

“It was easily our best game all year. We were very loose tonight; the girls were all having fun,” Schwarz said.

The Jaguars won in three games against the Wildcats (1-8, 6-14) in their first meeting. In the rematch, Windsor relied on a strong serve to jump-start its offense.

“We served really well,” Schwarz said. “When you serve well, then we hit the ball much better.”

The Jaguars were paced by Destiny Clark (17 kills, 10 digs), Madison Weber (8 kills, 4 aces) and Kaitlyn Alger (21 assists, 5 digs, 4 aces).