Christopher falls to Branham but not without a fight for the ages

Christa Arroyo (9) and Jackie Patane (3) go up for a block against Branham's Seneca Lent during Wednesday's playoff game in San Jose.

For a brief amount of time, it appeared as though Christopher would make a playoff comeback to be remembered.
The Cougars down two-games-to-none to host Branham went on an 11-1 scoring run to end Game 3 and avoid a sweep. That 11-1 run turned into a 20-1 run that extended into Game 4 and that’s when Christopher ran out of gas.
The Cougars had gone up 9-0 and hadn’t surrendered a point for 16-straight serves when the Bruins staged a counterattack that brought a home crowd to its feet, left the visitors in shock and a whole lot of heads shaking at what they just witnessed.
“I feel like we did end on a high note,” said coach Brian Calimpong. “Although you never want to lose the last match of the season. I’ve truly said this has been a phenomenal season.”
Branham cruised through two games 25-18, 25-16 before Christopher staved off elimination with a 25-10 Game 3 win followed by the Bruins staging a rally of their own for a 25-22 Game 4 win to take the match.
Christopher looked like Game 5 was a foregone conclusion, up 18-10 after its 9-0 start.
“That’s this team’s potential. They lived up to every bit of their potential in that portion of the match. Unfortunately the start and the end were not exactly us,” Calimpong said
Samantha Dolan had three kills while Jackie Patane opened with two aces in the run.
Dolan closed out her final match in high school with eight kills, three aces and a block.
“I’m going to miss her so much,” said Katelyn Viray, who has played with Dolan since hey were in middle school. “She’s been like a big sister to me.”
Branham however tied the game with an 8-0 run and eventually outscored Christopher 15-4 down the stretch.
Sydney Voss scored kills on Branham’s final three points to end the match. She finished with a match-leading 18.
Voss had 10 of those kills through the first two games and was held to two in the third.
Calimpong said there was nothing different his team did other than to just play defense as they had practiced.
“They just finally made the adjustment where they were waiting on their blocks,” Calimpong said. “They were up early on so there were parts of the court that were open that shouldn’t be open if the block is on time.”
He also gave credit to his libero Marielle Gomez for sticking with Voss and anticipating where she wanted to go with the attack.
“I thought that was probably the gutsiest performances I’ve seen with her just staying out wide,” Calimpong said.
The Cougars finish the season 19-14 overall, including a 5-7 run in the Gabilan Division.
This was the second time in school history Christopher won 19 games in a season and the first as a member of the A-league Gabilan Division.
“They fought. They clawed. They played an extremely tough schedule, probably one of the toughest,” Calimpong said.
Katelyn Viray led the team with 13 kills and seven blocks.
“I’ve known her since she was 9 years old and I don’t think I’ve known a person who truly loves the game as much as she does,” Calimpong said.
She was instrumental in the stretch of 16-straight points and afterward was just so happy for her team and the season it had.
“This was my most favorite team I’ve ever been on. It was so full of love,” Viray said. “… Everyone had a special trait that made us better.”
“My team did a very kickass job and I’m going to miss this team a lot,” she added.

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