The St. Helena High volleyball team ensured that the North Central League I race would remain a quagmire as the Saints defeated the Fort Bragg Timberwolves 25-11, 25-16, 25-12 Monday.
The league race remains a three-way tie for first atop the NCL I with St. Helena, Clear Lake and Middletown in a flat-footed tie. The Saints close the regular season today at home against Willits.
Jennifer Martin (14 assists, five digs), Andrea Gomes (two kills, one block, six digs, one ace), Paige Preston (two kills, six digs, two aces), Sarah Gamble (six kills, four blocks, six digs), Katie Begerow (three kills, two digs), Dana Cronin (two kills, two assist, one block, two digs, one ace), and Erica Crean (seven digs) paced St. Helena.
“They’re playing good volleyball,” Saints head coach Benny Rabanal said. “The girls seem to be in sync with each other, passing well — giving Jennifer a chance to get the ball to the hitters. It looks like we may have a playoff for the league title and girls are keeping their game sharp by not letting up in the easier matches. They’re definitely playing like a playoff team now, I’m really proud of them. They’ve come far since the beginning of the season. Everyone is stepping their game up in anticipation of the section playoffs which start next week.”
The Saints will learn of their postseason fate Sunday. If Clear Lake, Middletown and St. Helena finish in a three-way there would be a playoff to determine the automatic berth to the NCS Div. IV playoffs.
St. Helena 3, Clear Lake 0
The Saints not only created a three-way for first but avenged a five-game loss earlier this season.
St. Helena defeated the Cardinals 25-19, 25-17, 25-13 on Thursday in a road contest.
Martin (19 assists, six digs, four aces), Gomes (four kills, two blocks, nine digs), Melanie Gouveia (two kills), Preston (eight kills, one block, seven digs, one ace), Gamble (eight kills, four blocks, five digs), Crean (seven digs) and Cronin (two assists, three digs, three aces) helped the Saints to victory.
“Having played Clear Lake a couple of times this season, we knew that they could give us some trouble but we also knew that we could beat them,” Rabanal said. “We had made a few adjustments on how we played defense and it all paid off as we were able to keep the ball in play and give our offense many opportunities to put a kill down. We were able to keep Clear Lake off balance with a combination of tough serving and well placed kills. They were not able to control the ball well enough to return any kind of effective offense against our defense. Paige and Sarah had solid games offensively and defensively.”
Rabanal added that better passing has also helped Martin as a setter.
“I am really proud of how the girls stayed disciplined and played aggressive defense and was patient on offense until we were able to create an opportunity for a kill,” Rabanal said. “They’re playing smart volleyball and staying focused on a league win. We’re going to work on keeping our game consistent with last weeks play as we come to the end of the season. We’ll take it one game at a time.”