A loud, though masked, crowd packed the stands at Thursday night's rival matchup between Terra Nova High School and Half Moon Bay High School volleyball at Terra Nova.
The varsity Cougars beat the Tigers in a lopsided, 3-1 victory.
“I was really impressed with how confident they were with their hitting,” said Half Moon Bay head coach Ryan Havice. “They made quick decisions, and I think they were better for it. Beyond that, I think just the general strength of the team is the numbers we have. We have 15 kids on the team and they can all contribute on any given night. It’s nice to have that flexibility.”
Half Moon Bay got off to a strong start, going on an 8-0 scoring run to start the first set. Terra Nova chipped away at their lead but never came within six points of Half Moon Bay in the first set. The Cougars took the first set, 25-16.
The Tigers came out fighting in the second set. The Cougars took an early lead, but the Tigers were always right behind them. Terra Nova stayed within a point or two until Half Moon Bay found themselves on a 7-0 scoring run, securing a healthy lead. The Tigers fought back, tying it up at 18-18, but narrowly missing pulling into their first lead of the match.
Terra Nova’s taste of victory was short-lived as Half Moon Bay pulled away again. Both teams fought until the final point, diving for every ball resulting in long rallies. Half Moon Bay took the set, 25-19.
The Tigers came close to pulling into the lead in the second set and brought a new drive to the third set, their final chance to stop the Cougars.
Half Moon Bay secured the first point but Terra Nova responded with the next five, securing their first lead of the match. Half Moon Bay was not easily deterred, and after some back and forth, Half Moon Bay still trailing, they went on a 9-0 scoring run and tied it up, 13-13.
“They made some adjustments in their lineup and it took us longer than it should have to catch on,” said Havice. “They put on their offense and rallied off a couple of really good runs, and that’s what got it for them.”
Terra Nova had a strong offensive performance in the third set, and while it remained close, the Tigers took the third set, 25-10, sending the match into a fourth set.
“They just need to follow the game plan, and that’s what they did in the third set,” said Terra Nova head coach Kawann Summerville. “I kind of figured out in the second set where they were attacking us and then I tried to attack on the strong tide to get them out of the offensive flow.”
Overlapping chants of “Let’s go, Cougars” and “Let’s go, Tigers” from the stands drowned out the noise of the game, but Half Moon Bay stayed focused.
“They eat that stuff up,” said Havice. “We crank up the music in our practices. There’s never a quiet moment in the gym, so there’s a stark contrast when we play other teams in a quiet setting. I think when there’s noise and excitement and stuff going on, that’s when we really step up. That’s what we’re comfortable with.”
Half Moon Bay took its first lead since falling behind in the third set but Terra Nova kept tying it back up until, at 10-10, the Cougars started to maintain the lead. Terra Nova kept close behind, but Half Moon Bay claimed the final set, 25-21, and the match, 3-1.
“I think the pressure and energy of having a lot of the crowd here from Half Moon Bay and all the players on the bench being really loud is something we really thrive on, and especially when the other team is really loud, we just feed off of it,” said Cougar player Natalie Inglis.
Inglis tallied 24 assists and Joey Vetrone added 21. Iris Grant led the way with 12 kills.
“Iris Grant killed it,” said Havice. “That was her best hitting night of the season, and I think she’s only scratching the surface of what she can do.”
Shea Wasaka had nine kills. Mia Etheridge, Jasmine Standez and Emily Jenar each contributed eight.
The offense was led by Aliya Wicks with eight service aces. Ava Cardiel and Gabby Harrison each had four kills and one service ace.
Ashlyn Cuvelier had a strong defensive performance with consistent digs; Sarah Quosig and Fiona Alfaro contributed accurate digs as well.
The junior varsity and freshman teams also took on the Tigers. The freshmen fell in a 2-1 match and the junior varsity secured the victory in two sets.
“They know each other and know how each other plays,” said Half Moon Bay’s junior varsity coach, Mike Inglis. “They’re able to convert things that a lot of times other teams can’t convert. They just keep going and they stay focused. That wins points if you stay focused and just keep pushing, whether you are up or down, and they’re really good at that.”
Up next, the Half Moon Bay Cougars take on the Mills High School Vikings on Thursday at Mills.