For two and a half games, the Buhach Colony High School girls volleyball team struggled to get in rhythm on offense.
Late in the third game, the Thunder finally starting clicking. However, it was too late.
Top-seeded Christian Brothers cruised to a 25-18, 25-15, 25-21 victory over No. 4 Buhach Colony in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III semifinals Tuesday night.
The Falcons (26-5) will face No. 2 Sonora in the section championship Thursday at Tokay High in Lodi at 7:30 p.m.
“We didn’t execute our offense really well,” said Buhach Colony coach Andy Hill, whose team fell to 20-12. “When that happens against a good team, they just whack the ball at you.
“We didn’t start playing well until the end of the third game. That’s when we actually put it out there.”
Christian Brothers looked the part of a top seed, with outside hitter Erin Chelini and right-side hitter Paloma Bowman leading the way.
The Falcons used a 7-0 run midway through the first game to open a 23-13 lead. Christian Brothers used two 4-0 runs and a 5-0 run to pull away in the second game.
“They were a great team,” Buhach Colony sophomore Cameron Gray said. “They moved the ball around a lot. It was hard to keep up with them. They were good on offense and defense. They got everything up. Their blockers were great. They were ready for everything.”
The Falcons had the Thunder scrambling most of the night. Buhach Colony struggled to control the ball and had setters Mallory Pazin and Miranda Baptista running all over the court trying to set up their hitters.
“We haven’t had that many simple, mental mistakes since the last time we played Pitman,” Buhach Colony senior Jessica Pinasco said. “We didn’t get into a rhythm until it was too late. It’s tough because we had a chance.”
Pinasco led the Thunder with 12 kills. Gray had seven kills. Pazin finished with 10 assists and 10 digs. Mckenzie Powell had 10 digs.
“I’ve said it all season, when we pass well we can beat anybody,” Hill said. “We made it hard work for our setter tonight with our passing.”
The Thunder’s season isn’t over. Advancing to the semifinals qualified Buhach Colony for the NorCal playoffs, but after losing in the semifinals, the Thunder will face a tough first-round opponent next week.
Buhach Colony did gain the support of the student body, as two spirit buses were filled with students who made the trip from Atwater to Sacramento to cheer on the Thunder. There were more Buhach Colony students in the crowd than Christian Brothers students.
“Look at the students who showed up here,” Hill said. “There were two student buses that made the trip to support these girls. That’s bigger than volleyball.”
“This experience was one of my best high school experiences,” Pinasco added. “This will be one of my best memories from my time at Buhach Colony. This school has never had two spirit buses before. We loved the support. I wouldn’t have traded this experience for anything.”