It was suppose to be a birthday celebration for Menlo-Atherton senior outside hitter Devin Joos. As it turned out, it wasn't the party she was hoping for.
Instead, the CIF Northern California Division I volleyball title match for Menlo-Atherton turned out to be just a long journey on a rainy day that ended with a five-game loss to top-ranked Pitman on Tuesday night.
The No. 2-seeded Bears had traveled to Turlock with hopes of upsetting the No. 1 Pride and advance to their first-ever appearance in a state championship match. Pitman was ranked No. 13 in the nation this week in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 National Volleyball Rankings.
That nearly happened, until Pitman (44-1) rallied from a 6-3 deficit in Game 5 and then pulled away from a 12-12 tie to win, 27-29, 25-23, 17-25, 25-23, 15-12 over the Bears, ranked No. 13 in the state by MaxPreps.
Thus, Pitman will play Redondo Union (37-2) in the Division I state finals on Saturday night at Santiago Canyon College in Southern California. And the Bears? Winter sports are already under way.
Joos, who is headed to UC Santa Barbara next fall, capped a successful senior season with 23 kills and 27 digs in her final prep match. The Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division MVP was sensational despite battling a tough blocking scheme by Pitman.
Fellow senior Ally Ostrow added 22 kills plus nine digs and sophomore setter Kirby Knapp finished with 15 digs and 67 assists, many to junior Leanna Collins, who finished with 15 kills. Eliza Grover finished with nine kills and senior Kaitlin Tavarez contributed 18 digs.
Menlo-Atherton had a chance to wrap up a victory in Game 4 after taking a 20-18 lead. But, the Pride rode an enthusiastic hometown crowd and took advantage of serving errors by the Bears to post a comeback victory to force the deciding Game 5.
The Pride grabbed a 12-8 lead before M-A rallied for the final time and tied the match following two kills by Joos. The Bears just could not overcome Pitman's 6-foot-3 Lindsey Vander Weide, who is headed to Oregon and finished with 20 kills.
Menlo-Atherton finished 30-4, one win shy of tying the 2011 team for most victories in a single season. The overall mark, with just four losses, ranks as the best in program history.