The Carlmont girls volleyball team beat Salinas 25-14, 24-26, 25-12, 25-16 in a CCS Division-I semifinal match at Los Gatos High School Wednesday. The Scots improve to 29-4 and equal the school record for victories, set by last yearâs 29-8 squad. The Cowboys end their season at 24-9. Carlmont faces Los Gatos in the CCS Championship match Saturday at Palo Alto High School
Carlmont senior Maya McClellan had 15 kills, 15 digs, a block and an ace; classmate Sophie Srivastava hit .500 with five kills to go along with 30 assists, 17 digs, two aces and three blocks; and sophomore Morgan McClellan added nine kills, 10 digs, two aces and a block. But the Scots also needed big performances from two of their less-heralded players to get past the Cowboys. Junior Katie Wong had a career-high 13 digs, three aces, and totally changed the complexion of the match from the service line in set three, and junior Elizabeth Prozell had five kills and six blocks, and was a big presence at the net all night for the Scots. Senior Tai Mei Chang added 11 digs and an ace; junior Alisha Mitha had five kills, three digs and two blocks; and senior Emma Vanoncini put away match point to send Carlmont to the CCS finals.
Carlmont started the match with a 10-1 spurt and controlled the first game. Things seemed in hand when the Scots led 24-18 in the second, but Salinas fought back to score eight unanswered points and level the contest at one set apiece. With momentum on the Cowboys side at 11-all in the third set, Carlmont called a time out. Carlmont received serve and scored a point to end Salinasâs run, and then Wong served up 12 more points to turn the tie into a 24-11 advantage for Carlmont. From there, Maya McClellan took over, registering five kills on her last eight attempts to close out the fourth set.
Carlmont is competing in the CCS playoffs for the ninth consecutive season, and for the 16th time in 17 years. The Scots have advanced to their third-ever CCS Championship match, and their second final in three years. The win also should secure the third trip to NorCals in school history; Carlmont is 0-2 in their prior two appearances. The Scots won the initial CCS championship in 1975, in a round-robin format with no true title match, before there was a NorCal tournament. Carlmont also advanced to NorCals in 2005, as the CCS champion; and in 2015, as CCS runners-up.
The Scots beat Salinas 25-19, 25-17, 25-22 in a non-league match on Sept. 7. But the two teamsâ history goes back much longer than that. This is the fourth time in five years that the teams have met in the CCS playoffs, with the last three meetings coming in the quarterfinal round: #6 Carlmont lost 15-13 in the fifth set at #3 Salinas in 2013; the 7th-seeded Scots turned the tables a year later, shocking the #2 Cowboys 25-23, 25-23, 25-23; and #3 Carlmont ousted #6 Salinas in four sets last year. The head coaches are connected as well: first-year Salinas Coach Chloe Goldman played club volleyball for Carlmont Coach Chris Crader when she was a sophomore at Salinas High. Their City Beach 16 Black team won a silver medal at the USA Volleyball Junior National Championships, and Goldman was selected to the all-tournament team as an outside hitter. Goldman went on to an All-America career as a libero at the University of Tennessee before returning to her alma mater as a coach.
While Carlmont will graduate five stellar seniors after this season, the team returns nine season-long varsity players, plus five other players who have made varsity appearances this year. The Scots JV (20-11, 10-4) and Freshman teams (17-7, 8-4) also had very good seasons, so the Scots are set up to continue their success in future years. After posting a very respectable 83-53 (.659) record in Coach Chris Craderâs first four years at the helm, Carlmont has now gone 85-22 (.794) over the past three seasons, for an average record of about 28-7 per season. Last yearâs 29-8 team set school records for most wins and fewest losses, and this yearâs 29-4 team is on pace to do even better.
Carlmont returns to action Saturday in the CCS Division-I championship match at Palo Alto HS, facing Los Gatos in a rematch of last yearâs semifinal, won by Los Gatos. Match times will be announced Thursday.
Agate, with Carlmont kill leader:
CCS Division-I Semifinal at Los Gatos HS (Wednesday, 11/8)
Carlmont (29-4) def. Salinas (24-9) 25-14, 24-26, 25-12, 25-16 Maya McClellan 15 kills