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Three and out: Golden Valley swept, falls one step short of Davis

NAPA -- Matt Thissen held his three seniors Ali Hague, Kaitlin Davidson and Krista Copus behind for one last group hug.

The Golden Valley volleyball coach thanked the trio, who were all fighting back tears.

Their last high school match was tough to stomach.

Napa dominated from start to finish in a 25-17, 25-19, 25-10 sweep in Tuesday night's Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinal at Napa High.

"I just told them I was very proud of them," said Thissen, whose team ended the season with a 17-3 record. "We only had a couple seniors to lean on.

"We had a senior dominated team last year and those three followed the other kids.

"This year, we asked them to be leaders and they did a great job."

Third-seeded Golden Valley never gave itself a chance against No. 2 Napa (25-2).

GV struggled with Napa's aggressive serves all night.

Napa combined for 14 aces in the three games. When Golden Valley was able to get the ball in the air, it struggled to control the ball.

"We didn't pass the ball well enough to be successful," Thissen said. "This game is all about controlling the volleyball.

"We hammered the ball at them in practice on Monday. I was jump serving. Steve (Livesay) was hitting floaters. That's why practice didn't go so well. It was because we struggled returning those serves.

"It's an adjustment when you don't see that type of aggressive serving that often."

Napa's service game set up everything and helped negate Golden Valley's height advantage at the net.

"We couldn't return any of their serves," Davidson said. "It was frustrating out there. We were shocked and it was all downhill from there."

Napa's Tatum Souza came out firing with five kills in the first game and added three aces during an 8-0 run in the second game.

"Serving has actually been a weakness for us all year," Souza said. "It's just started coming on for most of us in the playoffs. I think we just realized we have to turn it on."

Napa coach Scott Kostecka liked what he saw as his team to put together runs of five, six and eight points in every match.

"We knew we had to serve well because Golden Valley has some big physical girls at the net," said Kostecka, whose team will play Nevada Union in Thursday's section title game at UC Davis.

"We had to serve tough to keep them from running their offense. I don't think they ever got in a rhythm.

"We've been inconsistent, but we've served aggressively all year. Tonight we were on."

Thissen went to great lengths to stop Napa's momentum and get his team turned around. He burned all six of his timeouts in the three games.

Nothing worked.

Katelyn Bennett, Celeste Castillo and Krista Copus all tied for the team lead with just three kills. Hague had only 11 assists.

During long rallies, the advantage swung to GV. However, the long rallies were few and far between.

"Napa's a very good team," Thissen said. "They're probably better than my scouting report led me to believe. Either that or they just played out of their mind tonight."

Sac-Joaquin Section Playoffs

Division I Semifinals

NAPA 3

GOLDEN VALLEY 0

25-17, 25-19, 25-10

At Napa

GOLDEN VALLEY -- Kills: Katelyn Bennett 3, Celeste Castillo 3, Krista Copus 3; Blocks: Reina Sykes 6, Bennett 6; Assists: Ali Hague 11; Digs: Hague 6; Aces: Hague 3.

Records: Golden Valley 17-3; Napa 25-2.

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