All of a sudden, things got interesting.
For the first two sets of Tuesday night’s match in the Southern California regional bracket of the CIF Division 5 volleyball playoffs, host Coast Union High was the dominant team.
Flash forward to the third game, in which the Broncos were about to give way.
Sierra Pacific of Hanford had three game-point situations but didn’t capitalize, which was fine with Coast Union — as the Broncos finished with outstanding play after outstanding play to win 25-14, 25-5, 26-24 and move on to the next round of the regional tournament.
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Coast Union (22-7) will face the region’s No. 1 seed in Tri-City Christian on Saturday in Vista. The match is scheduled for 7 p.m.
The Broncos made it this far because they never panicked, even when they were down 24-21 in the third game to Sierra Pacific (13-12-2). Their late comeback included two attacking points by junior Roxanne Mertens and an ace by senior Nicky Ortiz before Ortiz provided a spike that bounced off the arm of Sierra Pacific’s Rafaela Macias and out of bounds for match-point.
“We kind of let them come back a little bit,” said Ortiz, who finished with 15 digs, seven blocks and eight aces, “but we got together and were like, ‘OK, we really have to knuckle down and play as hard as we can in order to win this.”
Other Coast Union players followed that motto. Sophie Flemion and Mertens had six and four kills, respectively. Amy Avina collected 12 digs, and Karla Soto recorded four aces. And as a unit, the Broncos survived a late rally — though they were well ahead after dominating the first two sets, 25-14, 25-5.
“We needed to work together and keep our passing good and really communicate,” Flemion said. “Those were really the main keys that kept us in the points.”
This Coast Union team, which completed its Southern Section championship run last Friday, is glad to be back in the state tournament.
In 2008, the Broncos advanced to the Southern California championship match under then and current coach Pam Kenyon but lost in four sets to Tri-City Christian, which is also Saturday’s opponent.
This time, Coast Union returned all six starters from last season. All six, as well as the other contributors, hope to continue on.
“I have an experienced group of seniors that’s totally leading us right now,” Kenyon said, referencing Katelyn Lorenz, Flemion and Ortiz.
“They have a lot of strength and depth and they’ve been in competition all their life, so they know how to be in a tough situation and keep their heads in the game.”
The Broncos know their journey will only get tougher.
“It’s an exciting road we’re on, this road to the state playoffs,” Kenyon said. “Every game is a wonderful opportunity for these girls to have a peak performance. We ask that of them, and every night they give it.”
Kings Christian 3, Coastal Christian 0
The sixth-seeded Conquerors lost to third-seeded Kings Christian 25-14, 25-10, 26-24 in the first round of the Southern California Regional playoffs.
Leslie Henry led Coastal Christian with nine kills, Koral Wright had 31 digs and JoAnn Lindstaedt had 11 assists.
The loss ends the Conquerors’ season at 17-4.
Tribune staff contributed to this report.