BELMONT -- With the Major League Baseball playoffs getting underway, Carlmont volleyball coach Chris Crader used a couple of baseball analogies to explain his team's success after a 3-2 win over Woodside.
"In baseball they talk about being strong up the middle,'' Crader said. "When you have a strong setter and a strong libero everything gets easier.''
Defense was indeed a key reason why Carlmont, trailing two sets to one and down 8-6 in the fourth set, was able to turn the match around. The Scots went on a 19-9 run to win that fourth set 25-17, then won the fifth set by a decisive 15-5 margin.
Outside hitters tend to get the lion's share of attention and Woodside has one of the best around in Christine Alftin, a player who began her high school career at St. Francis and is headed to Cal to play her college volleyball. Alftin has 26 kills Thursday.
Ella McDonough played an important offensive role for Carlmont with 23 kills and Charlotte Jackman had career-highs of 20 kills and 11 digs. Setter Amelia Tupou had 12 digs and eight kills. Libero Bailee Roces had 26 digs and four aces. Alexis Morrow played a strong all-around game and Alex Lay made a contribution by serving to close out the second set, thus allowing the Scots to tie the match at 1-1.
"We're like the Oakland A's,'' Crader said. "Just a lot of people nobody's heard of.''
Carlmont (11-5, 4-0) remained unbeaten in league and tied for first place with Menlo-Atherton in the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division while Woodside (10-7, 3-1) dropped a game behind. It's a very strong top half of the Bay Division this season with those three teams and Burlingame.
"The top four are so strong this year,'' Crader said. "The league is clearly the best it's ever been.''
Carlmont plays crosstown rival Notre Dame on Friday, a team that dealt the Scots a 2-0 defeat on Sept. 7 at the Milpitas Spikefest. Then Carlmont has the showdown at Menlo-Atherton on Tuesday.
Woodside won the first set 25-23 and after losing the second 25-20 led for most of the third set. The Wildcats were up 20-16 when Carlmont went on a 6-0 run to take the lead 22-20. But Woodside had an answer, closing the set on a 5-1 run that started with a kill from Alftin.
But Carlmont seized control midway through the fourth set and didn't let go the rest of the match.
"I don't have a simple answer for what happened,'' Woodside coach Kyle Mashima said. "Carlmont did a good job playing defense and maintaining momentum.''