A kill by junior outside hitter Taylor Wilson from the back row to the opponent’s end line in the second set of the CIF quarterfinals match between San Marcos High and Polytechnic would have given the Royals a 2-0 lead.
The kill would have capped off a 7-0 run by San Marcos resulting in a 25-20 set victory and would have put them just one set win away from going to the semifinals.
The ball was originally called in by side judge Jon Roberts, however, head referee Ron King overruled his counterpart and said that Wilson’s kill was out.
“I saw it in, he overruled me. He has the power to do that,” Roberts said after the match. King did not comment after the match.
From there, Poly flipped the match on its head as it would come back to win the second set and would eventually win the match in four sets by scores of 23-25, 30-28, 26-24, 25-18 to advance to the semifinals of the CIF-SS Divison 3 Bracket.
With the win, the Panthers remain undefeated on the season and will face — in the semifinals on Saturday.
“Well, we’re up 24-20, we score the point, you have professional lines people here, he (Roberts) calls it in and then he (King) overrides it. Now mind you, we now are only at 24-21. We still should have been able to get a side out, but it does take the wind out of your cell a little bit when literally you’re switching sides. So that was tough but I still feel like we had a chance to execute,” co-head coach Tina Brown said.
Coach Brown would pick up a yellow card from Stahl after arguing another call that went against the Royals.
With the loss, San Marcos ends its season at 21-6 overall and had won 11 straight before Wednesday.
“They (the girls) really fought hard, really up until the very end … it’s tough to lose a senior and (we have) four legit seniors walking away in Brynn, Ashley, Grace, and Bella and they’ve contributed so much to this program,” Brown said.
After a stellar comeback win on Saturday against South Torrance, San Marcos came out a bit flat at the start of the quarterfinal match.
Poly took advantage of five attack errors by San Marcos, as well as a violation, to take an early 15-8 lead.
Four kills from senior middle blocker Brynn Sofro, as well as a solo block, helped spark the Royals offense and helped the team tally eight straight points to take a 16-15 lead. Sofro had a great night for the Royals, tallying a team-high 19 kills in what would be her final outing. She also added four blocks and an ace.
“She was unreal tonight, and I said to her is probably the best game she’s ever played. The reality is, in the season, when we start in August, we want to be peaking right now (during playoff time),” Brown said.
“Brynn did exactly that for us.”
From there, the two sides would trade scores.
Down 23-22, a kill from Madison Oriskovich, followed by an ace from senior Grace Matthews, who had another stellar night defensively with 45 digs, put the home team in front by a point. A block by Oriskovich and Sofro on the ensuing Panther attack would give the Royals a 1-0 lead.
The second set followed a similar pattern with Poly jumping out to a 10-6 lead before San Marcos rallied to tie the match at 11-11.
A kill from Panthers’ senior outside hitter Ella Mao later in the set gave Poly a 19-14 lead. Mao was fantastic on the night for Poly as she notched a match-high 23 kills, nine of which came in the second set.
“We knew they had a strong block. So we really had to find the holes because, in the first set, we didn’t really take advantage of that. But I think we learned from our mistakes,” Mao said.
“(San Marcos) definitely put up a hell of a fight. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy coming into here but we put up a team effort. We really want to go all the way and I know that if we stick together as a team, and we can do it.”
San Marcos chipped away at the lead, then, down 20-18, Matthews went back to the service line. Matthews served tough for six straight points, including an ace which gave the Royals set point at 24-20.
Matthews again served on the ensuing point and even was the one who set the ball for Wilson on the point which was reversed.
A kill by Mao, another attack error by Wilson, and a kill by senior Zoey Mao suddenly gave Poly life as it tied the match at 24-24.
San Marcos then had four more chances to put the set away with leads at 25-24, 26-25, 27-26 and 28-27. The Royals did not convert a single chance.
Conversely, at 28-28, the Panthers got an ace from sophomore Kayla Chu and then a final kill from Ella Mao to steal away the set.
From there, San Marcos continually had chances throughout the match, but never looked like the confident team it had been throughout its previous 11 matches and even in the early stages of Tuesday’s match.
San Marcos again fell behind early in the third set and again made up ground to tie the match at 20-20. The Royals led at 23-22, but a service error from Sofro and then an attack error from Wilson gave the lead back to the Panthers.
At 24-24, a kill from Poly’s outside hitter and then a field block gave them a 2-1 advantage.
In the final set, again the Panthers jumped out to a lead, but this time they never gave it up. Trailing 10-6, the closest San Marcos would ever get again was at 20-16. From there, Poly scored five of the final seven points to win the match.
Wilson finished with 18 kills on the night, but seven of those came in the final set as she could never really find her groove in the early sets.
“We probably weren’t as effective with our other blockers tonight so they were able to commit two to Taylor a lot of times,” Brown said.
In their final outings, Bella Johnson finished with five kills while setter Ashley Day dished out 30 assists.