Troubadours' big roster falls short against Sailors

Published: Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012 - 12:06 am | Page 8C
Last Modified: Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 - 10:46 am

IRVINE – There weren't even enough seats for them.

At the CIF State Volleyball Championships, only 16 chairs were set up on each team's sideline, nowhere near sufficient for St. Francis High School's 19 Troubadours.

Not that they were necessary. Only the edges of the seats were filled at any one time, and they were empty when a player on the court made a big play.

The big plays were few and far between, however, as St. Francis lost to Marymount of Los Angeles 3-1 (25-11, 25-17, 23-25, 25-20) Saturday in the Division I title match at Concordia University.

"People said I was crazy keeping so many players," Wright said of her decision to field such a large roster. "There were that many girls worthy of being St. Francis varsity volleyball players. … I wanted them all to experience this season."

With how this all has unfolded, there aren't too many skeptical of that plan now. The Troubadours (38-3), routinely among the NorCal elite, had their finest season in recent memory They won their 12th Sac-Joaquin Section title, earning the top seed in the CIF NorCal playoffs and making their second appearance in the state title match.

The only two teams to defeat St. Francis this year were Marymount and Archbishop Mitty of San Jose, which captured its ninth state championship 30 minutes before the Troubadours took the floor.

Marymount (37-5), making its eighth state championship match appearance, entered the match admittedly still smarting from a five-set defeat to Palo Alto in a thriller in last year's D-I title match.

The Sailors got out to a 7-1 lead behind outside hitter Kathleen Harris and middle blocker Kaitlyn Edwards, who combined for 10 kills in the set. By the time St. Francis scored a point not given to them by a Sailors error, it was already in a 16-6 hole.

The second set was more even as St. Francis hung with Marymount before an 8-3 run from the Sailors put it out of reach. Troubadours outside hitter Gaby Palmeri had four of her team-high 13 kills in the frame as St. Francis began to close up its block and step in front of more Marymount spikes.

"That frustrated us," Marymount senior middle blocker Ashlie Williams said."We're not used to teams figuring us out that early."

The Troubadours earned their first lead in the third set, getting out to a 2-0 lead with Loni Kreun at the service line.

St. Francis gained separation late in the set, going up 20-15 on the strength of some punishing Courtney Robledo attacks from the outside.

After the Sailors battled back behind senior outside hitter Courtney Jasuta, who at one point scored four straight Sailor points, Troubadours senior middle Alison Child put the set away with a solo stuff block of Jasuta.

A Jasuta attack error tied the fourth set 20-20, giving St. Francis its final chance to force a fifth set. But when Marymount's Harris scored on a sharp cut from the outside, it ignited a 5-0 run that gave Marymount its seventh state championship.

Palmeri paced St. Francis with 13 kills while St. Francis senior setter Ali Koumelis added 29 assists and 11 digs.

"We all knew we could (win)," Koumelis said. "It took every one of us to get to this point. If we were missing one player, we couldn't have done it."

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