OCEANSIDE – Coronado started off hot here against Mission Vista in the Islanders CIF San Diego Section Division II volleyball playoff match on Oct. 24, winning the first set 25-21 before losing headway in the next three, 16-25, 21-25 and 20-25.
The away match was a carbon copy of Coronado’s first round of playoffs last season, where Mission Vista also beat them in four sets on its home court.
Mission Vista had a returning six, according to Coronado Coach Adeile Ahmu, including junior 6-foot middle and right side Sara Dukes, who snuck around Coronado’s block, and senior 5-foot 10 setter MeganJo Martin who occasionally attacked on the second touch.
But the Islanders (19-16) did not go down easily in the single-elimination playoffs.
“I’m really happy with how hard we fought. We had a really tough league this year. We had to fight for every game.”-Emily Page, junior setter and captain.
“I’m really happy with how hard we fought. We had a really tough league this year. We had to fight for every game,” said captain Emily Page, a 5-foot 8 junior setter and recent Biola University commit.
Page said that prior to the match, the team talked about their collective mindset to focus on mental toughness—an attribute especially needed against Mission Vista’s loud student section decked out in red, white and blue.
The noise, however, did not phase Page as she stepped back to serve on Mission Vista’s game point in the fourth set with Mission Vista ahead 24-19. She then aced her next serve, bumping the score to 24-20, before Sara Dukes of Mission Vista finished off the match.
“Normally there’s not a large student crowd at games,” Ahmu said. “That’s a mental part of the game that we talked about in the beginning of today, and I was very proud of them pulling out of it and fighting back.”
Every single point of Tuesday’s game highlighted the Islander’s scrappiness.
At the net, 6-foot 1 senior and middle Ruby Deckman had several key blocks and kills, giving the team momentum to climb out of a 9 point hole in game four.
And junior Sadie Proctor, a 5-foot 10 outside hitter and captain, was the team’s go-to for the offense, consistently attacking from the outside and back row.
On defense, sophomore libero Avalon Haro went up against Mission Vista’s strong offense, while Page got Mission Vista out of system by throwing the ball over on the second touch.
Saying goodbye to seniors
While Tuesday’s loss brought the end of the 2023 season, it also meant saying goodbye to seven seniors.
“I think that’s what we’re going to be losing the most, our height at the net, and the leadership that they have, because they’re very calm seniors,” Ahmu said. “They’re all very even keeled; they don’t stress out too much.”
A collected presence is something that senior Emily Wygal specialized in for the season and the demanding match.
“For myself, when it’s getting really tight, I try to keep myself focused and calm,” Wygal said, adding that the little things make the biggest difference in moments of pressure.
Page said she is really sad to be losing Wygal next year, since the two of them have been playing together since middle school.
“All of our seniors are really talented, not just volleyball wise, but academically,” Page said.