If it had not been accomplished on Wednesday night, those in the gym and beyond might still consider the evening’s unlikely happening to be impossible.
Instead, Pacifica Christian High’s girls’ volleyball team turned the impossible into the improbable, dismissing eight consecutive match points in rallying to victory in a five-set thriller.
Sydney Penticuff served out the final nine points of the match, as the Tritons defeated the Warriors, 25-17, 17-25, 27-25, 16-25, 16-14 in a nonleague game at Pacifica Christian High.
“Our coach has taught us that serving and passing make the game, and I think that showed in this game,” Penticuff said. “It was a lot of pressure, but everyone was really encouraging, so I just tried to remain calm and serve as best as I could.”
The Tritons’ bench and the crowd support grew in volume as the team crept closer to evening the score. Brethren Christian led the final set, 14-6, but Pacifica Christian would not beat itself.
As the run went on, the Tritons (5-2) made one play after another. When the score reached 14-11, there were whispers along the bench that this run could actually happen.
The Warriors (5-4) were the bigger team, and it appeared that they were in a position to close out the match on several occasions. Middle blocker Cassie Bond attempted to put away consecutive points, but she was turned away on both tries by the combination of Breck Burwell and Isabel Hadley.
“It felt so amazing,” Burwell said. “Izzy and I were so excited. I was just like, ‘I got you. We can do this.’ As soon as it dropped on their side, we were like, ‘Yes, keep going.’
“This is my first year playing volleyball, so going to five [sets] is something I’ve never done before. Doing that is just so awesome, to know that we can do it as a team.”
The back-to-back blocks narrowed the deficit to 14-13. On the next point, McKenna Bullock was called for a net violation as she went for the ball.
When the Tritons got their own match point, momentum was squarely on their side. Hannah Ramsey could not control Penticuff’s serve, and it went for a match-clinching ace.
“They played with so much heart and so much consistency,” Tritons coach Kimberly Adams said. “I’m so proud of the fact that they never once gave up, no matter the point gap.”
Casie Carlson had 15 digs, six kills, two blocks, and two aces to lead Pacifica Christian. Maddy Alaluf and Burwell added eight digs and two kills apiece.
The Warriors were not shy about taking their swings. Amber Duran and Alyssa McKee each had eight kills in the match. Sarah Peters had seven aces, 5½ blocks, and five kills to help Brethren Christian.
Warriors coach Larry Overton surmised that his team needed to be more selective as it looked to close the game out.
“We just panicked at the end,” he said. “We made a couple of bad passes, and then everybody was trying so hard to finish on a ball that maybe wasn’t the right set.”
Results aside, Overton added that the five-setter was exactly the type of game that would help his team prepare for league.
“You have to learn to be in those battles, in those away games, with the crowd against you,” Overton said. “You need to be able to block everything out and just play within your team. We’re learning to do that.
“[The Tritons] played great. Their crowd was great, and they got on us in the end when we just couldn’t finish.”
Brethren Christian opens Academy League play at home against Crean Lutheran on Thursday.