Heading into the City Open Division semifinals October 30 the Palisades High girls volleyball team sported a perfect 24-0 record this fall against section opponents.
The top-seeded Dolphins appeared to be on their way to extending that streak when they won the first set thanks in large part to an 11-point serving run by sophomore outside hitter Tulah Block, but visiting El Camino Real raised its game in the next two sets to seize control.
Palisades showed grit in forcing a deciding fifth set and even took an 8-6 lead on a stuff block, but the fourth-seeded Royals won nine of the last 12 points to pull off a 16-25, 25-12, 25-9, 18-25, 15-11 upset that avenged a 25-22, 25-21 defeat September 22 in pool play at the Crescenta Valley Tournament.
It marked the third straight season that the Dolphins were eliminated on their home court. They lost to Granada Hills in four sets in the semifinals in 2021 and were swept by Venice in the quarterfinals last fall. They won the last of their record 30 City titles in 2020.
“After that third set we had to dig deep and come together and that’s what we did,” junior opposite hitter Brooke Stratton said. “We played them in a tournament and the sets were pretty close so we expected a tough match. Once you get to a fifth set anything can happen.”
ECR went on to win the City title by beating West Valley League rival Taft in the final last Friday at CSUN.
“This is the most special team I’ve ever played on,” Stratton said, fighting back tears. “Win or lose, it’s been very rewarding.”
Palisades (35-7) got seeded sixth in the SoCal Regional Division IIIplayoffs and hosted No. 11 Pacific Ridge (22-11) from Carlsbad in the first round Tuesday night.
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