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The Warriors have their sights set on creating a little history at Righetti High School.

The girls volleyball team is one win away from hanging a banner inside the Warrior gym.

Righetti cruised past Reedley Immanuel and into the CIF Central Section Division 3 championship match inside that very gym Thursday night.

After the 25-22, 25-10, 25-21 win over the Eagles, Righetti will play Saturday at the College of the Sequoias. The Warriors will face top-seeded Fresno San Joaquin Memorial, which swept Madera South in the other Division 3 semifinal.

Righetti has never played for a CIF title in girls volleyball, school officials said after Thursday's win over Immanuel.

The Warriors have, however, played Memorial, their opponent Saturday. The Panthers knocked Righetti out of the playoffs last year. 

"We know they've got a strong team this year but we know we've got a strong team, too," said Righetti coach Charlie Koertge. "We'll work on our serve-receive, our serving and passing on Friday and then get there early and get mentally ready for a rematch. 

"We owe them for last year and it'll be a good payback."

If the Warriors play like they did on Thursday they'll surely have a chance to knock off Memorial. Righetti is the No. 2 overall seed. 

After a bit of sluggish start in the opening set, Righetti asserted itself the rest of the way.

Immanuel kept pace in the opener, holding an 8-7 lead. But an Ava Bradley kill tied the set and a violation on Immanuel gave Righetti a 9-8 lead.

A Mackenzie Kestler spike put the Warriors up 12-9 later on. She then served an ace for a 13-9 advantage. 

Katrina MacKinnon's smash made it 14-10. An Abigail Salazar ace put the Warriors up 16-10.

Then a big spike from Kyra Allen gave Righetti a seven-point cushion. A dazzling dig from Salazar, a junior, made it 18-11. Another kill from Kestler put Righetti up 21-13. 

Immanuel then climbed back into the set, trimming down Righetti's 22-15 lead to 23-22. But the Eagles struggled to get the ball over the net on the next point and MacKinnon put the exclamation point on the game with a kill to give Righetti a 25-22 win.

The Warriors then dominated the second set, racing out to a 13-2 lead. Kestler's kill put the Warriors up 16-2 and MacKinnon followed that up with a kill for a 17-2 edge. Another MacKinnon kill put Righetti up 23-7. Righetti went on to win the set 25-10. 

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Immanuel was more competitive in the third set, but Righetti had more than enough to put the match away, holding the lead from beginning to end. An Allen kill ended the match with a 25-21 win in the final set. 

"We had to get our composure and clean up our passes," Koertge said of Righetti's regrouping when Immanuel made two runs. "Really that makes all the difference in the world. Immanuel battled back and made it close, but our girls had the poise and confidence to finish the game and not have a let down. And they went for it.

"They weren't playing not to lose, they were playing to win."

Kestler, one of Righetti's four seniors, led the way with 12 kills. She also had two aces and a block. Allen had nine kills and a block and MacKinnon added six kills.

But the offense was facilitated by Shanyce Valadez, the team's setter who consistently fed the team's three powerful hitters in Kestler, Allen and MacKinnon.

"I always hit the hot hand, whoever is scoring the most points," Valadez said. "Especially now in the playoffs because we have to win."

Unofficially, Valadez had 19 assists Thursday against Immanuel. She, Jahnine Ricafrente, Kestler and Alyssa Joseph are the four seniors on the team, who have a chance to make history Saturday afternoon. 

"I think we're all going to be nervous, obviously," Valadez said. "But I think we got it. We're confident this year and we've been doing good. I think we can win this."

Cross Country

Mountain League Finals

San Luis Obispo swept the girls and boys swept the team titles. Runners raced on the 5K Fairbanks Course across from Cuesta College.

The San Luis Obispo boys scored 32 points. The San Luis Obispo girls won with 32 points.

The Santa Maria boys finished fourth in the seven-team field The Righetti girls and boys were fourth and seventh respectively. Santa Maria’s girls are in the Ocean League.

Arroyo Grande freshman Taylor Jones won the girls race in 17 minutes, 57.9 seconds. Damian Gavilan of Paso Robles won the boys race in 16:53.7.

Santa Maria’s Luis Diaz (12th place) and Righetti’s Naylea Calderon (17th) were the top Valley finishers in the boys and girls races respectively.

Every team that competed was guaranteed of advancing to the Nov. 21 CIF Central Section Finals at Woodward Park in Fresno.

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Joe Bailey is the sports editor at Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Contact him with tips and story ideas at jbailey@leecentralcoastnews.com or (805) 739-2239. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jbaileysmsports

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