Rocklin advances to second round of NorCals

Crane records 35 kills in contest
By: Cameron Salerno for The Placer Herald
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The two best offensive weapons of Rocklin High’s girls volleyball team showed up in Tuesday night’s opening round of the CIF NorCal Regional Division I girls volleyball tournament.

Against nine seed St. Mary’s, the No. 8 Thunder’s weapons came through when they needed to. In the five-set victory over the Stockton club, sophomore Kennedy Crane had a team high 35 kills and Raquel Castro followed with 15.

“Both of our outsides are very important pieces to our offense,” Rocklin head coach Dave Muscarella said. “When our team gets in trouble we tend to get the ball to them to help us.”

The entire Thunder offense was too much for the Rams to handle in a 29-27, 25-14, 21-25, 19-25 and 15-8 victory for Rocklin to end St. Mary’s season.  

The teams had some familiarity with each other prior to the match. Earlier in September, St. Mary’s beat Rocklin in three sets (2-1) in the High Sierra Invitational tournament. Despite having a better record than Rocklin, as well as a head-to-head victory, St. Mary’s was awarded the lower seed for the state playoffs and forced to hit the road, where Rocklin played host.

In the first set, the Rams held as much as a nine-point lead. However, Rocklin clawed their way back into the match behind 10 kills by Crane to take set one.
Rocklin carried that momentum into set two and jumped out to an early lead. St. Mary’s was unable handle the Thunder offense, as Rocklin went up 2-0 in the match.

With their season on the line, the Rams made a comeback with a four-point victory in game three. The visitors then used that momentum to take the fourth set, as well.

“We have been kind of doing this all year,” Muscarella said on losing sets three and four. “It is something we have been working on all season, which is finishing games. The best part is we had the ability to bounce back, which helped us finish the game tonight.”

In the deciding set, the teams traded blows like heavyweight fighters. After falling behind 8-5, Rocklin called a timeout.

After the timeout, the Thunder went on a 10-0 run, capping the win on a powerful kill by Castro.

Muscarella said in the timeout he told his team to stop worrying about winning or losing and play a set at a time. He said Crane’s ability to put her serves where Muscarella called them was also a big factor in the win.

Rocklin had to travel to the Bay Area Thursday to take on No. 1 Foothill. The Falcons earned a 3-1 victory to end the Thunder’s league championship season.