FAIRFIELD, Calif. - For many years, San Joaquin Delta College had been the class of the North, reaching 16 state tournaments between 1977-2009. This decade, it's been Cabrillo taking the North region to new levels with two state titles. On Saturday night, it was the new version of the Mustangs, led by All-American Amilya Thompson, who found a way to rally from two sets down and shock the Seahawks, 20-25, 21-25, 25-22, 25-20, 15-13, in the CCCAA State Women's Volleyball Championship semifinals.
Delta (25-4), the North No. 3 seed, originally its fifth seed, reached just its third state final, also making it in 2002 and in 2005. Delta has never won the state title. Top North seed Cabrillo (30-2) saw a 46-match win streak against North region teams end and an 18-match overall win string broken.
The Mustangs were paced by Thompson, who finished with 23 kills and 18 digs. Another key was setter Mike Fithian, who handed out 51 assists, had 12 digs, two aces and dumped six kills, including one for match point. Kelly Markham (seven kills, six blocks) continues to be a menace at the net and she was aided by Grace Celli with two solo blocks and four kills.
In the pivotal fifth, Cabrillo grabbed command at 8-2 when the teams changed sides. Delta immediately chipped away and then took an 11-10 lead on a combined block by Celli and Thompson. The talented Mustangs outside hitter and MVP of the Big 8 Conference twice made attacks that went long as Cabrillo regained the advantage at 13-11. Thompson bounced back with a kill, and then following a Cabrillo ball-handling error, served an ace that lipped the net and fell in for a 14-13 lead. Fithian then finished off the 4-0 run and the match.
Cabrillo had big matches from Camryn Rocha (18 kills ) and Kylie Kvam, who had 18 kills (.342) and 10 digs. Setter Mari Molina totaled a tourney high so far with 53 assists to go with four kills. Jolie Samuelson chipped in 10 kills. Amanda Meserve contributed eight kills and four blocks while reserve Bella Bress scored two of her three kills in the fifth set. Alyssa Nelson served three aces and added 19 digs.
Delta hit .277 overall despite Cabrillo having more attack kills overall at 68-63.
"We were tied 22-22 in the third set, and it just seemed like we were going to make it," said Cabrillo head coach Gabby Houston-Neville. "It was a heartbreaker. Delta played great defense. I think in the fifth, we had some players who were playing afraid to lose and others who were saying let's get the next point. We just seemed to be off a little. It was a great season for us and I can't be prouder of our team. We had an outstanding two matches here, and I can't ask for more from them."
Delta head coach Molly Mordaunt-Hummel talked about her team's resiliency. "Our kids fight so hard and there is just so much heart on that floor," she said. "We blocked really well in our win over MiraCosta, then in the first two sets v. Cabrillo we did zilch at the net. We focused better on slowing down Cabrillo's tough offense and did a great job blocking over the last few sets. Markham, Fithian and Thompson are such battlers and they wanted it at the end. We earned this trip to the final."
It was Delta's 25th state tourney win in its history, the most of any North region team. Cabrillo is 14-16 now in state tourney matches.