Redwood Giants finally tall
The Redwood (Larkspur) girls volleyball team wasn’t on anyone’s pre-season rankings watch list.
However, after their showing at the Albany Cougar Classic last Saturday, disposing of Monte Vista (Danville) twice by 2-0 scores, the Katie Pease-coached Giants not only are the highest ranked team in the CIF North Coast Section, and No. 5 in the Bay Area, but their No.14 state ranking is the highest ever for the girls from the Redwood Empire.
“This might be the best team I’ve ever had,” said Pease, a mother of two who is now in her 15th season at the Giants helm.
No offense to Novato San Marin, a 25-7, 25-9, 25-11 Redwood victim in the Marin County Athletic League opener I witnessed Wednesday night, but even though Pease held out her top hitter, 5-11 junior Bailey Osborn, and emptied the bench with ongoing mass substitutions, my keen eye can see this Giant’s team is for real. They have a lot of girls that can play.
In fact, this year’s team reminds me of the 2003 team Pease took to Mountain View to face top-seeded St. Francis as the No. 2 seed in the Northern Regional Division III playoffs. I was there as the Giants gave the Lancers everything they could handle in the first game, losing 25-20, but St. Francis was just too good, and closed it out in three, just like they did against Santa Margarita Catholic the next week in the state championship.
Pease has a lot of hitters, but the glue that holds it all together is 5-11 senior setter Sierra Dawson, the MVP of the Cougar Classic. Against San Marin she was used sparingly but still managed 13 sets, two kills, a block and a service ace.
“She’s a great setter, and her height really helps, but she can hit too, and blocking is another one of her strengths. Her game is so well rounded,” remarked Pease.
Another girl that looked outstanding was 5-11 senior outside hitter Sophie DiGrazia. She can really elevate and has good strength. Senior libero Rachael Thorson served seven-straight aces.
Pease has six hitters and blockers that are 5-11 or taller, and all will see action, including 6-1 freshman Mackenzie Cook, and 6-1 sophomore Marguerite Spaethling.
“I haven’t been big enough in the past. Now I have height and I like the pipeline,” said Pease, who has some 6-footers on the JV team.
Not only does Pease have height, but she has senior experience that she feels is a big boost to the current success.
After a Friday match at Novato, Redwood and their height will be tested when they play in the Pagini Invitational this weekend at Sonoma Valley.
Santa Rosa Maria Carrillo and current 5-0 Vintage (Napa) and the Van Winden sisters, 6-3 sophomore Torrey Van Winden, and 6-1 junior Adlee Van Winden, should be Redwood’s biggest challengers.
But what about putting away Monte Vista twice? “Amazing, fantastic, satisfying” rattled off Osborn, DiGrazia and Dawson.
Redwood in now in Division II, so they wont see Monte Vista in the playoffs, but a solid Carondelet (Concord) and Carrillo are in the NCS D2 mix, and state No. 6 and Bay Area No. 3 Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) looms if Redwood is to make a big run in the state championship race.