Trabuco Hills strikes fast, reaches finals for first time


CORONA – It can happen in a flash.

One minute, the Santiago of Corona girls volleyball team was one point away from a one-set lead with a thunderous crowd erupting in support at its every move. The next minute, Trabuco Hills was celebrating a set victory and had all the momentum.

Such was the way it went in Tuesday’s CIF-Southern Section Division 1A semifinal, as Trabuco Hills won the final six points of the third set – four at set point – and went on to defeat host Santiago, 25-22, 20-25, 26-24, 25-23, and advance to its first section final.

Santiago (32-4), seeded second in the bracket, ended its season short of a CIF-SS final for the first time in three years.

“It happens very fast,” Santiago senior Makayla Wolfe, a UC Irvine commit, said. “We knew going into the fourth set that it was all or nothing. We definitely put our hearts out there.”

As Tuesday’s third set wound down, the Sharks appeared in prime position to take control of the match at set point with a 24-20 lead. But third-seeded Trabuco Hills (30-4) reeled off six consecutive winners to take the set, shocking the Sharks with a 26-24 win.

Really, though, the Santiago was dogged in the third by the same thing that dogged them earlier – unforced errors. Santiago lost serve five times in the first set due to service errors; during the Trabuco’s six-point, match-saving rally, the Sharks hit errant twice.

“We just made too many unforced errors,” Santiago coach Arlen Elvik said. “Our ball-control and serve-receive is usually good; they were just better than us tonight.”

Trabuco led by five late into the third set, but the Sharks mounted one last rally, tying the set at 22 on consecutive kills by senior outside hitter Natalie Shollin, who finished with 12 kills.

Trabuco was set up for the type of fall in the fourth that Santiago saw in the third, but Coach Craig Moothart never wavered.

“I wasn’t worried,” he said. “I was just stoked at how well we were playing."

Freshman Erin Anderson hit a winner to put the Sharks up 23-22, but Trabuco then scored the final three points, securing the victory on senior Tara Eaton’s ace.

Senior outside hitter Bailee Turang finished with a match-high 15 kills, and Wolfe added 10.

Allison Kantor led Trabuco with 18 kills.

“It was a tough loss to a great team,” Elvik said of Trabuco. “I’ll be shocked if they don’t win Saturday.”

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