Last week, Atascadero High’s girls volleyball team got its revenge on San Luis Obispo, after losing earlier in the season to the Tigers, in a five-set battle between two PAC 7 rivals.
On Thursday, it was Nipomo’s turn to return the favor to Templeton in a five-set thriller between Los Padres League rivals as Nipomo lost to Templeton in their first meeting of the season.
On Thursday, in front of a raucous fan home base that battled Templeton supporters for noise control, Nipomo won a seesaw thriller 25-17, 20-25, 25-18, 19-25, 15-10.
The Titans (8-9, 6-3) found a way to tighten up their defense compared with their earlier match against the Eagles (13-3, 8-2) — winning rallies and making scrambling digs to keep points alive.
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Sami Baker led the way with 15 kills and 16 digs, including clutch kills to put the Titans ahead 9-7 and then 11-7 in the fifth set while building up to the 15-10 close-out and boisterous celebration.
“I’m so proud of the way we played,” Baker said. “Last season we lost twice to Templeton and they beat us at their gym this season. I’m so excited right now.”
Taylor Nevitt tallied eight kills and Megan Penaflor had 28 assists for the Titans. The tandem of Nevitt and Baker made for some powerful hitting as both players, who each stand 6-1, rose up high above the net for kills.
“I think as a team we’ve really improved our hitting, our blocking, and our defense,” Nevitt said. “I played middle blocker last year before I moved to outside hitter this year. This is Dallis Castro’s first year at blocker and she’s really gotten good at the position.”
Templeton came into the match in second place at 8-1, hoping to win out for an end-of-the-season finale against Santa Ynez, who beat the Eagles in their first match 3-2.
The Eagles were led Thursday by Autumn Russell, who recorded 19 kills. Mari Stewart had 12 kills, Josi Kelly logged 22 assists and Marissa Torres had 40 digs.
In each set, the team that got an early lead went on to win and Nipomo got off to good starts in the first and third sets to build early leads.
But Templeton battled back and pushed through a 15-14 deficit in the second set to win and then built a commanding 21-14 lead in fourth set and held off a late Nipomo rally to win that one.
“Slow starts never help,” Templeton coach Jodi Kelly said. “Our hitting percentage wasn’t as good as it normally is. But I think Nipomo really has improved since the last time we played them. They were all over the place and got to balls well. They served exceptionally well.”
Perhaps dealing with some nerves, Templeton missed some costly serves in the fifth set that helped the Titans grab the edge.
Nipomo coach David Cassidy said that his players came into the match battling nerves as well, but they fought through them.
“They rose above that and conquered their fears,” Cassidy said. “Tonight, they were fired up and realized they had no reason to be afraid.”