The Cabrillo Middle School gym was dominated by ear-splitting chants, competitive fan sections, and built up pressure between two newfound rivals, as the Foothill girls’ volleyball team struck down the Saint Bonaventure Seraphs.
While it may have appeared to the average viewer that the game was neck and neck due to the excitement of the sweaty fans, the Dragons controlled the game from start to finish, winning all three sets 25-16, 25-13, and 25-18.
Because it was the last home game of the regular season, Payton Grenier ‘17, Nicole Gorostiza ‘17, and Kasie Spencer ‘17 were honored before the game, followed shortly by the national anthem. After the festivities, an intense game was underway.
The first set began with a block by Morgan Gallagher ‘18, followed by a kill from Haley Higgins ‘19, who played for Saint Bonaventure last season. Even though the game featured her old school, she felt no hostility and said the game was like she was “playing with all of [her] old friends”.
Higgins tallied an ace and a kill bringing the score to 7-4, in favor of the Dragons. Lexi Malone ‘19 and Pearl Esparza ‘19 had back-to-back kills, both from sets by Taryn Savard ‘20, leaving the scoreboard to read 13-11. After a Gallagher kill put the score at 16-12, the Dragons took off, vaulting their lead to 21-12, behind a couple of aces by sophomore setter Bailey Dent. Heather Ellison ‘18 finished off the set with an ace, and Foothill won 25-16.
The fans continued their cheering onslaught, and it didn’t go unnoticed by the team.
“Their energy builds up our energy,” Spencer said.
Coach Kris Gullatt also appreciated the support of the audience.
“I love the crowd, I think the girls get nervous playing in front of all that energy, but we’ve been talking about how to use that energy.”
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The Dragons came out blazing in the second set, and skyrocketed to an 8-1 lead behind two aces by Ellison and a kill from Spencer. The Seraphs had a run of their own, and cut the lead to three, but Malone recorded three kills in a row, followed by a kill by Gallagher to push the lead to 20-13. Savard set it up to Spencer, who slammed it down for a kill to end the set in dominating fashion, 25-13.
The third set began with another block by Malone, and the teams proceeding to fight back and forth putting the score at 4-3. After two kills by Ellison and a diving save by Libero Faith Mackie ‘18, Spencer tallied another kill and left the score at 11-7.
Malone had another kill followed by Gallagher, and the score was close: 21-18. Savard stepped up to serve and proceeded to nail three straight aces past the Saint Bonnie defense, and Malone ended the game with a kill, winning the third set 25-18.
“I’m so fortunate that I got into Foothill because it’s such a good environment and [tonight] I felt like I had family on both sides of the court,” said Higgins.
She discussed the depth of talent the Dragons have, saying “there’s no one on the bench that can’t play the same as every other girl on the court.”
Gullatt confirmed that the Dragons “clinched” a berth in the CIF Southern Section Playoffs. Spencer acknowledged that Foothill moved up a division in playoffs, and that “this year will be harder, but it’s fun to have a challenge.”
All three seniors were sad to have their Foothill volleyball career approach an end, but they were excited for playoffs and wanted to leave their fans with some final words.