Prep Impressions: Nov. 17, 2015

Woodcrest Christian junior Tesa Oaks rises to the ball vs. Templeton in a CIF-SS Division 3A semifinal on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015.

Woodcrest Christian junior Tesa Oaks rises to the ball vs. Templeton in a CIF-SS Division 3A semifinal on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015.

I covered the Templeton-Riverside Woodcrest Christian CIF-Southern Section Division 3A semifinal round volleyball match on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, for The Press-Enterprise, pe.com & @PEcom_preps, and came away thinking the Royals were outplayed by a more experienced team.

Templeton’s five seniors all played significant roles in the Eagles’ 25-19, 26-24, 26-24 victory, with senior outside hitter Lauren Ralston scoring a team-high 17 kills in a balanced effort.

All were juniors, obviously, when the Eagles lost in three games at home in the quarterfinals of last year’s playoffs.

They were motivated, but what Templeton did best was keep Woodcrest Christian star Tesa Oaks off the net for long stretches.

The 5-foot-11 junior, so strong with her hitting, was neutralized by the Eagles’ top-notch return game. Best hitting from the left side to best utilize full range or her right arm, Oaks was contained to a match-high 27 kills.

The Royals (22-6 overall, 14-0 Ambassador League) forced Templeton to extra points in the second and third games — a commendable effort — but were not mature enough to take advantage of tie-breaks at 16-, 18- and 23-all.

Senior libero Anna Stevenson will remember her final prep match with bruises after throwing her body around for a team-high 23 digs. Her return attempt at 24-25 hit the net and ended the match.

Junior Alexandria Frank came on in Games 2 and 3 with several blocks and a couple of kills for Woodcrest Christian, and should compliment Oaks well next season.

POST-MATCH QUOTE SHEET:
Templeton head coach Cameron Schaeffer:

“It’s incredible. I give a ton of credit to (Woodcrest Christian). That’s a strong team. Especially Tesa Oaks. She put pressure on us all night. Their defense was solid and it was a really well-fought battle. Everyday in practice we knew there’s going to balls hit hard at our players. So we told them ‘Alright, just be prepared for it,’ and we set up our defense for it and they played right into it. Still, we had the defense set up and she still got a lot of kills off us so a lot credit to her. We knew we were close last year, and this team came into our house and took us down in three, so we were really pumped. We were really ready to play this game. Templeton hasn’t been to a final since 1992 (5AA) so this is the first time in a long time.”

Riverside Woodcrest Christian head coach Teri James:
“The biggest thing is they served amazing. If you’re going to play us, which a team with a player at that level, then you better serve well and they did that. Their serving was outstanding. They had us on our heels. We struggled to get in front of the 10-foot line. It was a battle, and until we figured that out and started getting the ball up, (Oaks) was hitting the ball in back of a front-row player and the 10-line, and that’s tough to do. I honestly believe the difference was their serving. I told me team when we hit the playoffs, ‘Bottom line, this game is won with serving and service. Bottom line.’ As important as the other skills are it’s those two skills that matter most. I thought they made some digs that on another night they might now make. Tesa (Oaks) put some balls into the corner, and that setter just made these running saves on balls and got them up. Take nothing away from them, they came in absolutely prepared and they deserved it. I’m excited for them in the finals. It’s a fun place to be. We were there last year. We far surpassed the expectations I had for them this year. We’re young. We only have two seniors. We started one freshman, two sophomores, two juniors and the senior was the libero (Anna Stevenson). They went 14-0 in the Ambassador League, which is not an easy thing to do and they did it. They’re a young team, and we’d like to be playing this weekend, but what we’ve done this season, being 22-6 with this young team, I’m very proud and very, very excited for them.”

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