Apparently the Gunn girls volleyball team pays very little attention to the score, whether the Titans are up a few points or behind by several. They seem to focus on making the right play at the right time to win the next point.
The formula worked pretty well Wednesday night in Gunn's 20-25, 25-13, 25-19, 25-23 victory over visiting Christopher in the opening round of the Central Coast Section Division II playoffs.
Sixth-seeded Gunn (17-13), which has won nine of its last 11 matches, travels to Presentation-San Jose for a quarterfinal match at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Elsewhere, Woodside (24-11) knocked off visiting Mountain View (19-16), 25-20, 25-22, 25-22, and will meet top-seeded Valley Christian in the quarterfinals, scheduled for 3 p.m. at Presentation on Saturday.
In Division IV, Terra Nova beat King City and will face host Sacred Heart Prep, seeded first, at 7 p.m. in Saturday's quarterfinal round.
The Titans trailed, 16-7, at one point in the fourth set. There was no reason to worry though. Gunn had things under control.
"We definitely had to talk," Titans senior Tara Tracy said. "We took a breath, calmed down and reminded ourselves that it all starts with the pass, then the set, and then the kill. We worked it one point at a time and weren't going to do anything silly."
Tracy could have added Gunn's serving, which allowed the Titans to run off multiple points in succession to climb back into the match. It was a team thing, though senior Amy Wang and junior Dila Kurt, in particular, were most effective.
"They serve hard," Tracy said. "They make amazing contact with the ball and have accurate location."
Tracy was one of the primary beneficiaries of the step-by-step reminder. Senior libero Emma Munch got the ball to the front row in good position and crisp setting from Wang and senior Lynette Xu gave Tracy the chance to put it away. She ended with 15 kills, while sophomore middle blocker Monica Crichton added six kills and four blocks.
Wang seamlessly shifted positions, adding another six kills to the team's total while serving up four aces in addition to her setting duties. Kurt also recorded four aces, though it was the serving that kept the Cougars (15-18) off balance.
"They served tough," said first-year coach Praneet Nanda. "When we got down, they were not afraid to serve aggressively. You can't be afraid of making mistakes."
The Titans eventually rallied to take a 21-20 lead on successive Wang kills. Christopher served into the net to give Gunn match point. Tracy fired home the winner moments later.
"We've been peaking at the right time," Nanda said. "There's been a lot of growth over the year. Players had to make adjustments and learn new positions. We had some fine tuning to do."
Tracy and the four other seniors, which included Iris Huang, had to set the example for making the changes. They never flinched.
"All of us were in new positions," she said. "It was like beginning all over. We had to figure it out. We had to work together. Honestly, this is one of the best teams I've ever played on where we all connected. We're excited but all we want to do is focus on the next team and to play the best we can."
Gunn also trailed in the third set, 10-4, when freshman Odeya Russo stepped behind the serving line and rattled off a series of effective serves that helped bring Gunn right back in the game, tied at 11.
"Typically one play change the momentum," Nanda said. "You can get a feel when momentum changes sides."
Kurt followed Russo in the rotation and helped put the Titans into position to win the third set, which opened on a three-point run with Wang at the line.
Wang was at her best in the second set, getting an inch from the Cougars and taking it a mile for the Titans, who trailed in every set at some point.
Wang helped turn a one-point advantage into a nine-point avalanche. Sophomore Zoe Pflasterer served the final two points of the set.
Junior Taylor Pedersen also kept things cohesive when Tracy rotated out of the front line.
"Beginning in October, we turned a corner and made big strides in team chemistry," Nanda said. "There are a lot of bright students at Gunn and that translated into high IQ athletes. I love analytics and that seemed to resonate. To see them growing together all year long takes it above volleyball."
For the Wildcats, senior Pascale Tregon had 14 kills and recorded a .571 hitting percentage. Freshman Elena Campbell added eight kills on .583 hitting and eight digs.
Woodside had 12 aces, including five from freshman Sarah Strus. Senior Claire Cicchetti did a little bit of everything with five kills, four aces and one service error in 16 attempts. She also had a team-high three blocks.
Senior Jordan Crevelt and junior Monica Klopp each had nine digs.