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Girls volleyball: Mustangs rise to the occasion: MVC wins its second league title in three years

Modified: Saturday, Nov 9th, 2013

WATSONVILLE — Madison Fisher said it was freaking awesome. Hillary Guerrero said it was unbelievable. Alyssa Zoppi said it was indescribable.

Soon, the team banner will say Monte Vista Christian volleyball 2013 Monterey Bay League Pacific Champions.

The MVC Mustangs cruised passed visiting Monterey with a flurry of kills and digs to a 25-10, 25-13, 25-23 win for a share of the MBL Pacific championship.

It is their second league title in three years.

“We worked ridiculously hard this season,” Guerrero said. “It’s a great feeling. We’re going to be on that banner. Now we know that all of that hard work paid off.”

For just a second, it looked as if that hard work had been for not, after the Mustangs (21-9, 10-2) had lost to the Alvarez Eagles Tuesday in Salinas in a five set fight.

But the team came together the very next practice and reworked its chemistry with an emotional meeting.

“We sat down and said, ‘that was unacceptable,’” said Guerrero, who led the Mustangs with 11 kills. “Alvarez was a good team but that was not who we are. We needed to forget about it.”

Come Thursday that loss was long gone.

The Mustangs gained control of the match in the first set by taking off on a 15-5 run to win it.

From that point on, Monte Vista, who was honoring its seniors Ashley Moore, Patricia Thorne, Myckenzie Toler, Zoppi and Fisher, rolled to the three-set win and the championship.

Fisher, who was on the 2011 league champion team as a sophomore with Toler, Moore and Zoppi, explained that this season that much sweeter.

“It was awesome. It just takes me back to sophomore year. I wanted it more this year, because it was our year.”

Monterey was not a team the Mustangs were looking past in the least bit, however.

The Toreadors had handed them their first league loss of the season just three weeks ago.

But unlike last time, the 2013 MBL Pacific champions were healthy and ready.

“This game we had our players play the way we knew they could play,” said third-year Monte Vista Christian head coach Kiley Woods. “They knew that Monterey was a good team, but they wanted to go out on a strong note and we wanted our seniors to play well.”

The night belonged to the Mustangs, their seniors and their crowd, which packed their gym and was the loudest and largest they had been all season.

“The fans were amazing,” Fisher said. “They kept us going and pumped.”

Despite being blown out in the first two sets, Monterey found some momentum in the third set.

After getting down 16-10 to the hard-charging Mustangs, the visitors started gaining some ground by slowly chipping away at their lead.

Monte Vista later gave them four gifts in the form of errors and in a flash the game was 22-20.

Fisher gathered her team for a few sage words, and the Mustangs recovered by squeezing out the final few points to send the stands and team into a frenzy.

“I told them to calm down and take a breath.” Fisher said. “I told them we have this. They were trying to kill every ball. We just needed to get back to playing our game.”

That knowledge and experience is something that Woods hopes will help the Mustangs on their next stop of their journey: the D-IV Central Coast Section Playoffs.

“I feel confident,” Woods said of the team’s chances in CCS. “Most of the girls have been there before, so I hope that those nerves are gone. We just played an amazing match. Hopefully we can carry that over.”

Fisher understands what role she needs to play in the preparation for CCS.

“I want to help them mentally prepare,” Fisher said. “It’s not going to be like this league. It’s going to be harder. Just because we won league doesn’t mean that we should go in and think we’re going to win games easily.”

The Mustangs were last in the section playoffs in 2011, and they were bounced in the first round by Carmel in four sets.

But Zoppi said she believes her team is capable of winning the section.

“Our team has so much potential,” Zoppi said. “With all the work we’ve put in I think we can go far.”

Moore had nine kills. The Mustangs combined for eight aces, and six blocks.

Monte Vista will find out whom they will face in the first round of the playoffs today.

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Keywords: monte Vista christian mustangs monterey bay league championship kiley woods Ashley Moore Patricia Thorne Myckenzie Toler Zoppi Fisher

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