San Joaquin Delta completes All-North Final 4...again at State Women's Volleyball

Savannah LeBarre drives an attack through Canyons block on Friday (photo by Jon Marley).
Savannah LeBarre drives an attack through Canyons block on Friday (photo by Jon Marley).

Updated Records: San Joaquin Delta (26-3) v. College of the Canyons (20-9)
Canyons is eliminated and finishes in a tie for 5th place at state
Semifinals, Saturday, 5 p.m.--N3 American River v. N1 San Joaquin Delta

(FRESNO) -- North #1-seed San Joaquin Delta finished the job for the North Region as the Mustangs sweep over South #4 College of the Canyons, 25-18, 27-25, 25-14, meant an All-North final four for the second straight year. The only other time there was an all-region final four occurred in 1978 by the South. 

Delta, the Big 8 Conference champions, will play for the fourth time against its conference rival North #3 seed American River in Saturday's second semifinal at 5 p.m. North #2 Feather River takes on #4 San Mateo in the other semifinal at 2 p.m. Both ARC and FRC were part of last year's All-NorCal semifinals field with state champion Fresno City and runner-up West Valley. 

Against Canyons, the Mustangs dominated defensively in shutting down the Cougars offense to just 29 kills and forcing them into 23 attack errors (.048 hitting percentage). 

Meanwhile, Delta's big hitters hit efficiently, especially All-State OH Savannah LeBarre, who had just one error late in the third set and finished with 15 kills in 40 swings (.350) plus 12 digs while Second Team All-American Kiyah Irby scored 11 kills (.269) with 15 digs. Angela Biazon added 18 digs and Raven Sula was solid on six kills and four blocks. Ellie Crowell contributed 33 set assists and three blocks. Bella Cormack added seven kills and three blocks.

For COC, Kaelyn White ripped nine kills and Sabrina Sveiven made 17 digs.

"Savannah is a 6-rotation player and can hit, play defense, block and she can even set," said Delta head coach Molly Hummel, the North Region Coach of the Year. "She stepped up and played a monster match tonight. We focused our game plan on defending COC's #8 (Brianna Botello), #12 (White) and #15 (Aly Grodell) and executed it well. We're one of the better blocking teams in the state and I think easily one of the best defensive teams overall."

On being part of a historic second straight all-North final four field, Hummel said, "I think what makes this special is to see so many North coaches texting me and saying how great it is for our region to accomplish this feat. Now we play American River again. It says a lot about our Big 8 Conference that two of us are here. There are no off nights in the Big 8 because anyone can beat anyone on any given night. ARC is a great team and they played near flawless against us in the Big 8 finale."

American River spoiled a perfect conference season for Delta with a win in the regular season final. Delta is 2-1 overall this season v. the Beavers, winning also over ARC in the third-place final matchup early in the season at the Delta Classic.

Against Canyons, Delta ran away with the third set, leading 10-4 and 17-7 capped by an Irby kill. LeBarre followed her one failed attack at 23-13, then drilled a kill followed by a kill from Emma Miller for match point. 

In a high-energy second set, Delta opened a 15-8 lead only to see Canyons fight back to tie it at 16-16 on a Grodell block. COC's White rifled kills to tie at 22-22, 23-23, and 24-24, saving a set point on the third attack. A LeBarre kill was followed by set-point block by Crowell and Sula that gave the Mustangs a hard-fought extra points set #2 win.

In the opening set, LeBarre set the tone with an ace on the match-opening serve, then ripped six kills in 11 flawless attacks to help the Mustangs to a 7-point game victory. Canyons got as close as 19-17, but Delta used back-to-back blocks from Crowell and Sula and then a pair of kills by Sula to close out the set. 

Canyons co-head coach Clay Timmons talked about his team's second straight trip to state.

"I'm super proud of the way we played a tough pre-conference schedule and got through some tough stretches to win a conference title," Timmons said. "We expected to be in the playoffs and it didn't matter where we were seeded (10th) because we were battle-tested and prepared to beat anyone. I think winning on the road v. Irvine Valley was as big a win as we've had in the last two years. Give Delta a lot of credit for executing its game plan. I think if we played like we did v. Irvine Valley that maybe we're still going at this tourney."

Release by Robert Lewis, CCCWVCA/CCCAA Championship SID