By SIM RISSO
For The Union Democrat
Beyond Summerville’s school colors of black and orange, there are similarities between the San Francisco Giants and the Bears volleyball team.
As Summerville senior Courtney Robinson said, “We play well with our backs against the wall — like the Giants.”
Do they ever.
After falling behind the Calaveras Redskins 2-0 at Mike Flock Gym, the Bears stormed back on Tuesday to win 3-2 and claim the outright Mother Lode League title — their third in the last four years.
“Last year we wanted to win it (MLL title) but we couldn’t,” said Robinson. “This year, we’ve all been playing together for a while and it’s so fun. We’re all just really excited and pumped for the postseason.”
Calaveras got out to a quick start, winning the first game 25-17, and then it pulled out the second game by the same 25-17 margin.
Trailing 2-0 and needing to win three straight games to win the match, were the Bears worried at all?
“We were very worried,” said Robinson. “We were like, ‘all right, we lost the first one. Now we need to get back together.’ Then, when we couldn’t end the second game, we were scared, so we were kind of playing with a little bit of desperation and that actually helped us.”
The Bears began clawing back.
They started out fast in the third game, opening a 12-4 lead before Calaveras battled back, cutting it to 20-19 before Summerville rattled off five straight points to capture the game 25-19.
The fourth game was closer throughout, with both teams tied at 17. From there, the Bears outscored the Redskins 8-2 to grab the game 25-19.
The fifth and deciding game was Summerville’s from the start, the Bears never trailed. The Redskins did make it interesting when they cut it to 13-10, but Summerville clamped down from there, taking the game 15-10.
So, what made the difference for Summerville from the first two games to the last three games?
“Actually, in the last three we had a little bit more offense going for us, a little bit more attack,” said Summerville head coach Kristy Dwyer. “Courtney (Robinson) was the one getting most of the kills for us. We passed the ball a little bit better and serve received, which allowed us to set up a little bit of an offense.”
The Redskins attributed their quick start to a couple different things, both somewhat related.
According to Calaveras sophomore Dakota Butzler, “(The Bears) were down, but we were up to start the match.”
Or, as Calaveras head coach Mikki Koepp said, “The first two they (Calaveras) were having fun … they were just playing and having fun. The minute they start to feel like, ‘Oh my gosh, I don’t want to lose,’ then they start to lose their confidence. I’ve been watching it all season. When they just have a great time together and play hard they’re unstoppable at times.”
The Bears were able to keep the pressure on the Redskins throughout the final two sets, which eventually allowed them to pull away.
For the Bears on the night, Breann Robinson had 22 assists and 13 digs, Courtney Robinson had 12 kills and 11 digs, Ashley Gamber had six kills, went 13 for 15 in serve receive and served 23 for 23 with two aces and 13 points, Nikki christie had six kills, Caitie Egger served 23 for 24 with five aces and 14 points and also had three blocks, Taylor Leslie had 13 digs and Baylee Self had two blocks.
With two matches remaining before playoffs, the Bears want to keep their foot on the gas and start setting up their lineup for postseason.
As far as Calaveras is concerned, the Redskins need to win both of their matches to qualify for the playoffs. One of those is against Bret Harte (6-7 MLL), who is also in the playoff hunt, just one game behind the Redskins (7-6 MLL).
“I know we can do it,” said Butzler. “We’re all really capable. We just need to play better as a team.”