ENCINITAS — The San Dieguito Academy girls volleyball team’s magical season came to a close Tuesday night after the Mustangs were unable to recover from mistakes in a 3-1 loss to the Francis Parker Lancers in the CIF Division II Semifinals in San Diego.
The Mustangs (27-9, 10-0) came out strong in the opening set against the Lancers, jumping out to an 11-6 lead.
“In the first set, we shut their outsides down. That was the game,” Head Coach Will Raschke said following the loss.
San Dieguito Academy went on to win the first set 25-16 and appeared confident heading into the next round. But the turning point in Tuesday’s semifinal matchup came during a competitive second set, which consisted of nine tie scores as the teams traded points before the Lancers pulled away to win 25-21 and even the series, 1-1.
San Dieguito did not help themselves with unforced errors leading to points for Francis Parker (18-10), which played nearly flawless defense and capitalized on the Mustangs’ mistakes.
“In that second set we had like six nets, four missed serves, it all adds up,” Raschke said. “If we hadn’t made those mistakes in game two, who knows. But that’s the game of volleyball, you have to make adjustments and figure it out.”
“Their freshman hitter (Ava Poinsett) was awesome,” Raschke said. “And the rest of the team played solid defense and didn’t let us get points easily. We were playing pretty solid volleyball for us. It wasn’t the best we’ve ever played on all fronts but that was a solid 90-plus percent of what we can play at and it just wasn’t enough.”
The Lancers won the final two sets, 25-19 and 25-17, which included some valiant comeback attempts by the Mustangs, but they weren’t enough to overcome the leads created by Francis Parker.
The Lancers advance to the CIF Division II Championships against Otay Ranch this Saturday.
For the Mustangs, the team will lose just three seniors to graduation, including senior Hannah Waite, a team captain and top hitter who led the team with 379 kills. Macey Pizitz and Bryce Wettstein will also be leaving the team after graduating this year.
“Hanna Waite is super talented and a leader on the court so hopefully we can get someone to step up and fill that position next year,” Raschke said. “But I’ve got a bunch of talented kids on junior varsity and the core of the team is still there.”
The team will also return freshman Hannah Demiter, who was second on the team this season with 247 kills and who Raschke hopes will continue to improve for the Mustangs moving forward.