Coach T’Anne Butcher’s game plan for the finals of Saturday night’s CIF North Coast Section Division 6 Volleyball Championship was very clear and concise.
Stay calm and relaxed.
Do your best and have fun.
There was something more to Butcher’s pre-game instructions for Calistoga High School.
“Keep breathing. Start safe and build up to where we get in our rhythm,” said Butcher.
Calistoga, the No. 8 seed, was in a finely-tuned rhythm in the fourth game, as it beat Jewish Community-San Francisco, 3-1, before a large crowd.
By winning 25-22, 18-25, 25-18, 25-9, Calistoga completed a 4-0 run in the section playoffs. The Wildcats (13-9 overall, 9-3 North Central League III) now move on to the CIF Regional Championships, which start on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at host school sites. Calistoga is the No. 5 seed and played at No. 4 Redding Christian on Wednesday in Round I. (Due to print deadlines, the Calistoga was unable to run that story in print this week. Check online for updates.)
“I would say, I just have a team of all-stars,” said Butcher. “We’ve got amazing defense. Great servers, good hitters, good blockers. We’re a scrappy team. We’re not afraid to get hurt throwing ourselves on the court. They did everything I could possibly ask of them tonight.
“You saw it. We were everywhere on the court. All the hitters were on. Serving was great. It’s how it’s been through the whole playoffs.”
Calistoga advanced to the championship match with wins over No. 9 seed Potter Valley, 3-0, No. 1 seed Fremont Christian, 3-1, and No. 4 seed St. Bernard’s-Eureka, 3-1.
“We’re very proud of our girls on the volleyball team,” Calistoga Principal Craig Wycoff said during a joyous on-court celebration following the match. “They’ve done a fantastic job. The girls played with a lot of heart. They came together as a team.
“They’ve had a positive attitude through the whole year. It’s just been a fantastic experience to be able to watch them. They’re coached real well. We’re going to the state tournament. People will know about Calistoga High School’s volleyball team. They’re a force to be reckoned with. They’re a great group of girls.
“We’re proud of the community that came out and supported our team tonight.”
The California Interscholastic Federation on Sunday will announce the brackets for each of the divisions for the 2018 State Volleyball Championships, which begin with the regionals.
“We just need to focus on ourselves and not the other team,” said Butcher. “It’s as simple as that.”
North Coast Section Commissioner Gil Lemmon made the trip from his office in San Ramon in the East Bay to attend the match. He presented players and coaches from each team with individual medals. Calistoga also received the NCS pennant and a large plaque – awards that Butcher, her assistant coaches and the players proudly displayed as their photos were taken near the net.
“My job is mostly sitting behind a desk,” said Lemmon. “And so to have the opportunity to really come out and interact with the student athletes, especially at this exciting moment, is really special.”
Lemmon said it’s the first time he has been to the Division 6 championship. It’s the first time that Calistoga and Jewish Community (7-13 overall, 2-10 Bay Counties-Central League), the No. 10 seed, have reached the finals.
“For the 8 and 10 (seeds) to progress and meet in the finals is remarkable,” he said.
Hayseel Barrera played well all-around and Jasmin Lopez stood out on defense. The Wildcats pass the ball very well and their defense is rock solid.
Calistoga rallied from being down in the first game 18-13, 21-18 and 23-21. The Wildcats scored the last four points.
Calistoga was in front, 10-7 in the second game. But Jewish Community pulled away to win and tie the match, 1-1.
Calistoga took a 19-15 lead in the third game.
It was all Calistoga in the fourth and final game.
“In Game 4, they were like, we’re relaxed,” said Butcher. “You could see it in their faces, in their body language. They were relaxed – and that’s when they play their best.”
The NCS title is one of top athletic achievements in Calistoga High history.
“It’s so awesome to see such a great turnout, from the school, the community, the teachers—awesome,” said Butcher. “It really was great for the girls, but I think it’s just great for the whole school to feel that sense of accomplishment and pride.”
Semifinals: Calistoga 3, St. Bernard’s 1
EUREKA — Despite a four-hour trip, the Calistoga High volleyball team was not swayed from its path to the CIF North Coast Section Div. 6 championship game.
The eighth-seeded Wildcats stunned No. 4 seed St. Bernard’s Academy, 25-13, 20-25, 25-16, 25-20, in a semifinal last Wednesday night.
The Wildcats came out strong in the first set and did not look back. The combination of Hayseel Barrera and Litzy Infante proved to be too much for the Crusaders (9-13) to handle. Barrera had 12 kills and five service aces and Infante added nine kills and six aces.
“They’ve really wanted this,” Calistoga head coach T’Anne Butcher said last week. “They’ve been fighting for it. They just played like champions.”
Calistoga wasn’t always such a dominant team. Back-row teammates Jasmin Lopez and Vanessa Quiepo remember what it was like from the beginning of the season to now, and they see a change in their team’s chemistry.
They said practicing and getting closer as a team has helped the Wildcats become a family, and that they got better the more they spent together.
The second set belonged to St. Bernard’s as senior outside hitter Emily Gardner was not going to let her team go quietly into the night. The first point scored by the Crusaders was all Gardner, as she had back-to-back blocks followed by a damaging kill shot. Gardner finished with a game-high 14 kills along with six blocks and six aces.
The second set win by St. Bernard’s also had a lot to do with the performance of junior Josie Peterson, who finished with 10 kills, six blocks and four aces.
But the Crusaders struggled to get their serve going consistently were not nearly as competitive in the next two sets, dropping both to the Wildcats.