MORAGA -- The Campolindo High girls volleyball team featured big hitters Mary Vaccaro, Abbie Noland and Chandler Moore when it beat Cathedral Catholic-San Diego in the California Interscholastic Federation Division III state championship in 2010.
Also on that team was a sophomore right side hitter named Annie Shurtz, who was just waiting for her chance to break out.
Saturday afternoon, the Cougars (30-4) again will face Cathedral Catholic (33-4) in the Division III state title match at Concordia University in Irvine. This time, Shurtz will be among those leading the way.
"Annie is a very soft-spoken person and leads by example," Campolindo coach Dave Chen said. "She's been waiting three years to play this outside hitter position, so it's not like this was a one-season turnaround.
"She's been developing her game for her whole high school career for this one chance."
Shurtz has come up big in the postseason.
She had 22 kills against Bishop O'Dowd in the North Coast Section final, 29 kills against Sacred Heart Cathedral-San Francisco in the Northern California semifinals and 21 kills against Valley Christian-San Jose on Tuesday to push her team into the state final.
But just like the 2010 team, Shurtz is not doing this alone. She's surrounded by a host of talented hitters in Kelley Wirth, Kirsten Sibley and Gaby Gryko. Fellow seniors Sophie Seiberth and Cassidy Abel were on that 2010 team.
The setter, Seiberth,
"This is my seventh season playing with her, and it's been amazing to see her develop and improve," Seiberth said. "But there's no one person that carries us. We all support each other."
Cathedral Catholic features Cal Poly-bound outside hitter Kristen Witous, who has 391 kills in 37 matches this season. Lauren Miller is a four-year starter at setter.
To beat the Dons, who are looking for their fourth state championship in five years, contributions will have to come from all over for the Cougars.
"The team is extremely selfless," Chen said. "They play for each other, but most importantly they play for their seniors. Our underclassmen know that at the end of the season when they look into the seniors' eyes, they will know if they gave those seniors a memorable final season or not.
"It's somewhat of a 'pay it forward' mentality because, in time, they themselves will be seniors. They should hope that their teammates play as hard for them."