Despite having a losing record most of the season, the Castilleja volleyball team will be playing in the CIF State Championships for a second straight season on Saturday after keeping its special season alive with a second consecutive NorCal title on Tuesday night.
The Gators (22-17) will face Southern California champ Bakersfield Christian (30-9-1) in the CIF Division V State Championship match Saturday at the Event Center at San Jose State at 10 a.m.
It was only a year ago that Castilleja achieved its season-long goal of playing for a state championship. The path to that final match included Central Coast Section and Northern California titles, the first in school history.
With expectations met, the Gators graduated five starters and began the 2006 season with their sights set considerably lower than a season before. A rebuilding year certainly was in order.
That rebuilding process, however, evidently was on a fast track because the Gators have repeated their 2005 season by winning CCS and NorCal titles.
Castilleja made school history with its second straight state appearance by eliminating St. Francis-Central Coast Catholic of Watsonsville, 25-20, 23-25, 25-20, 21-25, 15-13 in the NorCal Division V title match Tuesday night at Menlo College.
The NorCal finale was a rematch of the CCS championship match that Castilleja swept, 25-17, 25-19, 25-17.
St. Francis CCC helped open the door for to the state finale for Castilleja by upsetting NorCal top seed Turlock Christian in the opening round.
Junior Laura Smith led the Gators on Tuesday with 18 kills with sophomore Taylor Docter contributing 15. Senior Katherine Jordan had a busy night with 48 assists while junior Audrey Kuan had 36 digs. Junior Katie Wang added 11 kills.
Trailing in Game 5, Docter produced a kill and senior Rachel Steyer added another for a 14-13 lead. The visitors then slammed a ball into the net for the final, clinching point.