VOLLEYBALL: Cougars claim share of first

Already down one set to none and trailing by seven midway through the second set, the Christopher High girls volleyball team flipped its collective “On” switch.

The Cougars embarked on a 19-4 run to take Game 2 and completely turned the tide against the Toreadores Tuesday night in Gilroy.

CHS led Game 3 wire to wire and ran away with the fourth set to grab a share of first place in the Monterey Bay League Pacific Division with a 3-1 (19-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-14) victory.

“Coach kind of gave us a big pep talk,” CHS hitter Cheyanne Dela Merced said. “We got it together and our momentum kept going up and up. It’s a great win.”

Outside hitter Hanna Tabron shouldered the brunt of the offensive load. She accepted the responsibility and recorded match-high 18 kills. Her numbers were complimented by a slew of others – including nine kills for Emily Doughty, eight from Olivia Tabron and seven apiece off the hands of Joy Kirkwood and Dela Merced. Freshman Samantha Dolan came off the bench late in the fourth set and had two kills in the final three CHS points.

Both sides were effective from the service line, combining for 26 aces. Alex Gerberick and Michelle Toves each had three, but a pair of aces each from Kaitlin Brummitt and Christa Arroyo seemed to come at the right times.

“We had contributions from everyone tonight. We are working as a team, and I feel like that is where this group has grown the most,” CHS head coach Brian Calimpong said.

The contributions came in a variety of ways and at pivotal moments for the Cougars, who could have easily folded after letting Game slip through their grasp, thanks in large part to the serving of Monterey’s Raquel Hazlett-Lozano, who had five aces down the stretch that padded a Toreadores 8-2 set-closing run.

The Cougars, though, did the opposite and clicked at the most opportune time is Game 2.

“They are finding their confidence,” Calimpong said. “They were mentally strong.”

CHS kept about five-point buffer between itself and Monterey throughout much of Game 3. The Cougars led by as many as six points on three occasions.

Gerberick, who registered 39 assists and 18 digs, highlighted the Cougars fourth set, keeping a point alive with a diving effort that led to an Olivia Tabron kill, which broke a 7-7 tie. CHS led the rest of the way to seal the win.

“I think this builds our momentum,” Toves said. “It’s a confidence booster to get us to where we need to be in order to win league, which is what we want to do.”

The Cougars (11-10 overall, 5-1 league) begin the second half of Pacific Division play Thursday at North Monterey County.

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