East County Sports

The One That Matters: Mesa sweeps Griffins in 3C2A semifinal



From 3C2A media relations

WALNUT) — San Diego Mesa College came into its 3C2A State Women’s Volleyball Championship semifinal as the #1 seed from the South Region, but had plenty to prove in facing #3 Grossmont on Saturday. After losing twice to the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference champion Griffins in regular season play, the Olympians refused to fall again and pulled off an impressive sweep.

The victory allows Mesa (28-2) to advance to its first state championship final since 2004 when the Olympians were the last team to lose to Golden West during its glorious state title run of 12 consecutive crowns. Grossmont had a 21-match win streak snapped in ending its season at 27-3.

Mesa again rode the powerful arm of All-State outside hitter Kailyn Jager, who fired 22 kills, hit .313 and led the defense with 12 digs. Another big factor was the play of Emily Eltrich, a 2021 state tourney veteran, who scored 13 kills, hit .333, and added eight digs. Setter Jaiden Mojica supplied the squad with effiicient play on 36 assists, three aces, and nine digs, many high on the difficult scale.

Olivia Ostler added three kills and four blocks, Sofia DelaCruz tallied six blocks, and Jaelyn Douglas had two kills and two blocks.

“I think in the first two meetings, we played at our floor while Grossmont was at its ceiling. We just did a bad job of executing,” said Mesa head coach Bobbi Jo Stall-Vest. “We knew Grossmont more than any other team we’ve faced this year and tonight we just executed the game plan the way we envisioned. We got some vindication. I can see how some didn’t feel we deserved to be a #1 seed, but we earned our place and now we are in the final.”

Grossmont struggled offensively, making 23 attack errors, only scoring 26 kills and hitting .025 after recording a consistent .290 team percentage coming into the match. Kate Beezer finished with eight kills, seven digs, two blocks and two aces while Alyson Guise added five kills and two aces. Grossmont head coach Brooke Callahan had to go the drastic measure of switching setters in the final set in removing PCAC MVP Chelsee Trendler, who recorded 18 assists.

“We were so good offensively v. Fresno in the quarterfinals, and then we just never were in sync offensively at all tonight,” Callahan said. “We were right in every set and then couldn’t terminate on attacks at the points we needed them most. Still, to have two PCAC teams make it to the semifinals is a great achievement. Anytime you face a team three times in a season, anything can happen. I told our team to be proud of how far we achieved, and reaching the state semifinals is pretty darn good.”

Jager scored seven kills in the opening set and after Grossmont led 13-8, she went on a 5-0 serving run that helped turn the tide. Tied at 21-21, DelaCruz made a solo block and Jager ripped two kills. An attack error gave Mesa the 3-point win.

In set #2, the teams traded points and were tied at five different junctures, the last at 23-23 on a kill by Eltrich. Ostler and Douglas put up the wall block for the 2-point victory and a 2-0 lead.

In the third, Jager served a 4-0 run and eventually an Eltrich kill gave Mesa a commanding 12-4 lead. But the Olympians stormed back and tied it at 17-17 on a block by Alyssa De Young and Joanna Verdugo-Del Real. After two more ties, the second at 21-21, Jager stepped up once more with two more big kills. Grossmont then made two attack mistakes to finish off the sweep.

Grossmont officially places tied for third place at the state tourney with Irvine Valley.

Mesa is the first South team to reach a final since 2019. It faces Feather River, the defending state champions and North #3 seed, on Sunday at 2 p.m. for the state crown.