Volleyball withstands late surge from Homestead, wins 3-1

Becca Raffel (14) completes a kill in the fourth set of the match.

Becca Raffel (’14) completes a kill in the fourth set of the match.

Colin Patterson, Staff Writer

The Palo Alto High School girls’ volleyball team (2-0, 13-3) beat Homestead (1-1, 7-5) 3-1 in a tough defensive battle on Thursday night.  A breakaway in the fourth set by Paly brought home the third win the team needed to seal the match.

The Vikings started the first set strong by quickly taking a 4-0 lead.  Kills by middle blocker Lauren Kerr (’14) and outside hitter Jade Schoenberger (’15) increased Paly’s lead even more.  However, strong offensive plays by the Mustangs cut the lead to 12-11.  The Vikings managed to hold off the Mustangs and ended the first set 25-19 with a block and and kill by Bella Graves (’14).

Homestead stepped up its game by giving Paly a neck-and-neck battle to the end in the second set.  Homestead started off the set by scoring the first point with a kill.  An early tie was broken when kills by outside hitter Becca Raffel (’14), outside hitter Shelby Knowles (’13) and Schoenberger helped bring Paly a 11-7 lead.  Errors by the Paly offense gave Homestead a four point streak, allowing the Mustangs to close in on Paly, 12-11.

“Our serve and pass went away,” head coach David Winn said regarding the second set.  “Our strength is our serve and pass but when its our weakness we don’t get a chance to run much on offense, so we started missing serves and we weren’t hitting our zones.”

Kills by both teams kept the teams within one point of each other.  A hit by Knowles into the net gave Homestead the lead for the first time in the match.  Determined to finish the set with a win, an ace by defensive specialist Keri Gee (’14) gave Paly the spark the team needed to come back and win 27-25.

“I think we stepped up our game a lot in the second set because we were still able to pull out a win even though we were down by a lot,” Raffel said.

The third set started out the same as the second.  Homestead struck first but was capped off at 3-3 by a Graves block.  Consecutive kills by the Mustangs built them their biggest lead yet, 11-5.  A Paly timeout helped slow the Homestead offense.  The Vikings squeezed in three kills before the Mustangs took off again to a 15-9 lead.  Kills by Graves and Schoenberger and aces by opposite hitter Sophia Bono (’13) gave Paly five consecutive points bringing them back within one point of Homestead.  The Mustangs were able to hold off the Vikings, winning the third set 25-20.

Keri Gee ('14) serves in the final set of the match.

“We’ve got be more consistent with the fundamentals. Everything else will take care of itself,” Winn said  “I was expecting to see how we did against some good hitters.”

Kills by Knowles, Raffel and Graves and aces by Bono and Gee gave Paly a strong lead of 11-5 at the beginning of the fourth set.  Even with a good early lead for the Vikings, Homestead hit a hot streak, and took a 13-12 lead.  Unwilling to let another set go, the Paly volleyball team struck back with several kills and blocks, shooting ahead with seven consecutive points.  The Vikings were then able to hold the Mustangs off at 25-18, winning the fourth and final set of the evening.  Knowles and Raffel finished the match off with nine kills each and Graves with 4 blocks.

“We heard that Homestead was the team to beat this year,” Raffel said. “We were pretty well prepared and I think we did really well.”

Winn is also very happy with the win over Homestead.

“A win in this league is always good I don’t care who it is,” Winn said.