COSTA MESA — As a former standout volleyball player, Coach Paul Muñoz knew what one of his best players was going through Tuesday. Abby Griffith showed up to Estancia High's first-round match in the CIF Southern Section Division 1-A playoffs not feeling her best.
Muñoz said his 6-foot-3 middle blocker had the stomach flu. He offered the junior advice before the girls' home contest against Bishop Montgomery of Torrance.
"I told her really it's important that she doesn't show [that she's sick] on her face. She's out there and she pushes through it," Muñoz said. "With a small team like we have, we don't have the backups."
Griffith played, but it wasn't enough for Estancia to get past the Knights. Bishop Montgomery swept, 25-21, 25-20, 25-18, and advanced to the second round.
Before the season, Muñoz set two goals for the Eagles. Finish second in the Orange Coast League and win a postseason match.
They accomplished one of two as the Eagles failed to get past the opening round for the third straight year under Muñoz.
"One of our main focuses this year was starting a tradition, a new tradition over at Estancia and inspiring our younger kids, our freshman and sophomores," Muñoz said. "This was by far the most proud I could've been with the girls in the first round.
"I haven't seen them play as good or be more prepared than they were for tonight in any other first-round match."
The Eagles (12-9) came out and took a lead in the first set. Then they hung around late, with Chloe Davis dropping a couple of her five service aces.
Estancia got as close as 23-21, before Bishop Montgomery's big hitter, Bria Green, put away the set. Green, who's bound for Alabama, finished with 21 kills, 13 digs and three blocks.
While Green was hammering shots, it was someone the team hasn't seen on the court in quite some time unloading in the second set. Coach Kevin Norman said Ashley Murray returned after being out seven weeks with a shin injury.
Murray came through for the Knights down the stretch of the second set. After Emma Griffith served strong for Estancia, which tied it at 16-16, the 6-foot-2 Murray created problems for Estancia. The junior middle blocker recorded two kills and two blocks and Bishop Montgomery closed out the second set on an 8-2 run.
"She was her normal self," said Norman of Murray, who produced eight kills on 13 attempts, with no hitting errors, to go with three blocks.
Norman said he didn't know anything about Estancia before the match. The teams didn't have any common opponents.
What Norman said he quickly found out was that the Eagles played scrappy. They challenged Bishop Montgomery (20-13), which shared second place in the Del Rey League, but lost the league's No. 2 playoff berth due to a coin flip.
The tallest Griffith on the court fought through her illness and finished with seven kills and two blocks. Her sister, Emma, a freshman outside hitter, led Estancia with 13 kills and added five digs and one block.
"Some of our girls had their best games of their lives, of their season," said Muñoz, referring to two seniors, libero Charlotte Gaitan (18 digs) and setter Ilene Umansky (30 assists).