STOCKTON — It wasn’t quite yet Halloween, but there were still some tricks in store for the West High volleyball team during their visit to undefeated league champion St. Mary’s.
There certainly weren’t any treats.
The Rams (10-0 Tri-City Athletic League) showed why they’re the cream of the crop in the Division III power rankings, using a dominating hitting game and an impenetrable defense to upend the Wolf Pack (6-4 TCAL) 3-0 — 25-11, 25-12, 25-9 — on Monday in Stockton.
The win seals St. Mary’s 15th league title since 1990 and second-straight TCAL crown. The loss could end the Wolf Pack’s season, as it puts West’s CIF Sac-Joaquin Division I playoff hopes on thin ice. Final power rankings are released Wednesday.
For West, the trickery — even if it wasn’t intentional — came even before the first ball was served, when the St. Mary’s gym announcer mistakenly introduced the Wolf Pack coach as Bess Haldi, who stopped coaching the team prior to the 2005 season.
Real head coach Pete Mullen didn’t seem to be bothered by the snafu. He was more concerned with what transpired on the court.
“Their offense was too fast for us,” Mullen said. “We were mistiming our blocks — we couldn’t block them once on the outside.”
That wasn’t all. The officiating seemed to favor St. Mary’s throughout, as nearly every borderline call went the Rams’ way.
And even the St. Mary’s gym played to the Rams’ advantage. Well-hit balls would rocket off the low ceiling directly back to the floor, a situation the Wolf Pack never face in the Den.
Still, no one on the West side was looking for excuses.
“They wanted it more — it was their senior night,” said West senior Nicole McDaniel, who managed six kills and blocks. “It’s hard when we’re not playing good — when one girl gets down, the whole team gets down.”
All three games were marked by short bursts of parity in between long St. Mary’s runs. The Rams had three such runs in the first, going up 6-1, 14-4 and 20-5 before closing out the game 25-11.
West went up 5-1 in the second game before the Rams came back to tie the game at nine before going on another run to lead 17-9. Kylin Ellison and McDaniel both had kills for a quick West rally, but a strong Ram service game on top of the offense was too much.
The third game was the worst for West. The Rams led 14-2 and 21-7 before two sideouts ended West’s night.
Tamar Schaf had a solid night serving for West, and the Wolf Pack also got a boost from seniors Tyler Payne and Sephora Waldu.
Today, the Wolf Pack begin the waiting game. They’ll have a short practice today, and on Wednesday — depending on what happens — they’ll either turn in their uniforms or begin a hard week of workouts in preparation for the section tournament.
“We’ll see what happens,” Mullen said. “If we’re in, we’re in.”
(S) St. Mary’s 2, West 0
The Rams ended the Wolf Pack’s season with a 2-0 loss on Monday, 25-9, 25-19.
Two of their losses came to the club player-laden Rams.
Tiana Franks notched two blocks, and Eliza Bowles added another two. Ashley Paul recorded five digs for West, who finished 6-4 in TCAL play.
“Through the highs and lows, the girls came far,” West coach Chelsea Stephens said. “They ended up their season strong — I think they’re ready for varsity next year.”
(F) St. Mary’s 2, West 1
West dropped a close game to the powerful Rams on Monday, 25-18, 19-25, 13-15.
“We came out of the gate strong,” said West coach Deborah Spencer, whose team improved over their last game against St. Mary’s, a 25-19, 26-24 setback.
West (7-3 TCAL) had six aces from Brianna Smith and five straight service points from Anise Abrahamson in the first and third games. Liu Dellafosse continued her string of solid passing games.
“The girls pulled together very well,” Spencer added. “It was a good season.”