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by Mike Finnerty (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Was there really any doubt that the St. Francis Troubadours would finish the season as the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I volleyball champions?
Before the season, coaches around the area were unanimous in their opinion that St. Francis was not only best team the section, but a true state title contender.
On Thursday night at the Pavilion at U.C. Davis, the top seeded Troubadours lived up to expectations and took care of business with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-14, 25-10) sweep of No. 3 Granite Bay for the Division I section title.
The win made it back-to-back section championships for St. Francis (35-2), and the programs 12th section title in volleyball.
"It does get better every time," said St. Francis' longtime head coach Alynn Wright. "Each team is different. We set goals at the beginning of the season and it's fun to help them achieve the goals they've set for themselves."
"It's so great, and just because it's senior year it's the best thing ever. I'm so happy we won," said Dana Vestman.
St. Francis players echoed the thoughts of Coach Wright.
"We had really high expectations for ourselves, we knew we could it, and that's just what we did," said senior Allie Wegener.
It's not often that St. Francis is tested early in a match, that happened against Granite Bay (39-6). The lead went back and forth with Granite Bay looking every bit like a team that could possibly take St. Francis to five sets.
The Troubadours got out of the first set with a 25-23 win, but after that it was all St. Francis.
"We knew what we had to do when we came out here, so it was just a matter of breaking down what we had to do," said senior Hannah Liserra.
"I think that we just need to start out stronger," said Wegener. "The first game we battled. and I think that after that we game realized we just needed to put our minds to it and push at the beginning."
The victory was a complete team effort, with no one player dominating the match.
Gabi Palmeri (eight kills) and Wegener (six kills) led the way in kills, with Courtney Robledo and Allison Child adding four kills a piece.
Defensively, it was Palmeri, Wegener, Vestman, and setter Ali Koumelis just to name a few who made an impact.
Section wins over Tokay, Rodriguez, Bella Vista, and Granite Bay set the stage for St. Francis to now make a run a State Championship. St. Francis captured the Division III state championship in 2005.
"So far this season has been going pretty well. We've accomplished most of our goals. We're really excited to go to NorCals and hopefully State," said senior Loni Kreun.
Round one of the NorCal Regionals will begin on Tuesday, November 20 for both St. Francis and Granite Bay. For St. Francis, this exactly where they expected to be.
"At this point in time it's one point at a time, one set at a time, one match at a time, and so far we're on the path that we've set for oursevles," said Coach Wright. "Hopefully we keep playing well, together, and injury fury, and you have to have the stars aligned so to speak, you have to have some luck along the way."
Vestman sees another motivator for winning.
"It's a pride thing, and when you get to win also, you just get to live that legacy."