The St. Mary’s High School girls volleyball team started its NorCal title defense with a win over Harbor-Santa Cruz on Nov. 21. It wasn’t done convincingly (despite winning in three games) however, the Panthers showed they can find a way to win.
Having Tarah Murrey on the team is one major reason, but ultimately it comes down to the role players. Can they step up and make things happen? Can they take the pressure off Murrey?
In essence, this is a team trying to replicate last season’s magic by acting as stunt doubles for past players. Laura Challis is not middle blocker Natalie Bogan, who now plays at Rice, but she provides that quick strike up the middle that keeps teams honest. Genny Pezzola isn’t exactly Bernie Leary, who was the “heart and soul” of last season’s squad, but Pezzola can pack a punch on the outside and is reliable. Last season, both Sarah Brajkovich and Corey Burgamy (now graduated) split time at setter, but now it’s Brajkovich’s show to run and all she has to do is put the ball up there for Murrey to get.
In other words, roles are being filled, people are stepping up. With that said, the Panthers are a team that makes people scratch their heads. How do they do it? Where do they find the extra offensive power? How do they conjure up the defense to win rallies?
Instead of tyring to figure it out, we’ll just sit back and watch. St. Mary’s won it’s second-straight NCS Division IV championship and are alive and well vying for another state championship appearance.