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Central Coast Classic: Remembering Righetti volleyball's historic and wild playoff run last year
Central Coast Classic

Central Coast Classic: Remembering Righetti volleyball's historic and wild playoff run last year

The Righetti girls volleyball team was all set to win the 2019 CIF Central Section Division 3 championship. Until the Warriors weren't.

Leading top seed Fresno San Joaquin Memorial 14-12 in the fifth set in the title match at Visalia-based College of the Sequoias, the No. 2 Warriors had two match points.

Instead, they saw the Panthers reel off four straight points to take the fifth set 16-14 for a 3-2 win in sets for the Division 3 title.

Righetti had a few days to rebound for the Division 4 state tournament and they did, edging North Hollywood Oakwood 3-2 in the first round of the Southern Cal regional at Righetti.

The Warriors were in a tough spot in the quarterfinals at their Warrior Gym. They led two sets to one but trailed Vista Tri-City Christian 12-6 in the fourth set. The Eagles, after dropping the first two sets, were flying high, with all the momentum.

Her team badly needed an answer and Righetti season kills leader Kyra Allen found it.

"There was a big hole in their defense," Allen said after blasting the ball over the Eagles' block as the Warriors re-gained control.

Allen's fourth-set kill attempts usually landed untouched or handcuffed an Eagle defender deep in the Tri-Cities back court.

Mackenzie Kestler, from about two feet in front of the net, finished the match with a kill and Righetti had a 25-15, 25-22, 20-25, 25-22 win.

"(Allen) saw that hole in their defense and she hit the line every single time," said Righetti setter Shanyce Valadez.

Valadez knew Allen had the hot hand as the fourth set went along, and she kept feeding her the ball. Valadez finished with 37 assists. Allen wound up with 18 kills.

"The whole team stepped up it up the fourth set," Righetti coach Charlie Koertge said afterward. "Kyra carried it. She willed that win."

Emma Galloway's serving helped the Eagles roll to a big early fourth-set lead. Then the Warriors started playing themselves into fourth-set contention.

Jahnine Ricafrente served an ace to put Righetti ahead 22-20. Allen put them ahead 23-21 with a kill, and the Warriors thought they were at match point when an Eagles shot went long.

Instead they, and Koertge, stared incredulously for a short time after a ruling that Righetti had touched the ball on the shot. The Warriors promptly gathered themselves, and Allen and Kestler sealed the match with a kill each.

Kestler finished with 11 kills and 11 digs. Allen made six digs. Abigail Salazar served three aces for Righetti. Allen served two and Valadez had one.

Serving, a big Righetti strength throughout the year, was more of a liability than an asset for the Warriors that night.

They missed seven serves in the first set alone. "Every player who served for us missed a serve," that evening, Koertge said. "We've never missed that many serves in the playoffs."

Still, Righetti prevailed.

After the wrenching loss in the sectional Division 3 final, "We want to keep playing," said Valadez.

The Warriors did. For awhile, anyway. They lost 3-1 at overall top seed Ojai Nordhoff in the regional semis.

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Sports Reporter

Kenny Cress, sportswriter for the Santa Maria Times since September of 2000. BA in political science from Cal Poly Pomona. BA in journalism from Cal State Northridge.

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