The final sideout

Balers fall to Mitty in coach’s last game
The finality didn’t seem to sink in even as Emily Allen
celebrated her game-ending spike and the Mitty Monarchs’ win over
the San Benito Haybalers in the Central Coast Section Division I
volleyball semifinals.
Balers fall to Mitty in coach’s last game

The finality didn’t seem to sink in even as Emily Allen celebrated her game-ending spike and the Mitty Monarchs’ win over the San Benito Haybalers in the Central Coast Section Division I volleyball semifinals.

Knowing the 15-6, 15-6, 15-8 loss to Mitty would be the final game in his 28-year coaching career, Larry Nabzeska didn’t break into tears or give a lengthy farewell speech.

Following the game Nabzeska talked to his team, shook some hands, received some hugs, dutifully packed his belongings and walked out of the Santa Clara High School gymnasium.

“I’ll never forget my time here,” said Nabzeska afterwards. “This has truly been a great team.”

Nabzeska and the Haybalers ended the season with a record of 30-5, their fifth-consecutive league title and a No. 9 ranking among schools in California.

“He’s a classy individual,” said Mitty Coach Bret Almazan-Cezar. “He built a great, competitive program and I’m happy for him.”

Unfortunately, Nabzeska will have to go out knowing his team did not play its best game against a Mitty squad that was sharp from the opening whistle.

Everything that happened in last week’s game was exactly what you’d expect from a championship caliber team. There were well-placed spikes, fluid passes, service aces and numerous blocks. Allen rifled home a game-high 12 kills and spearheaded a defense that did not allow the Haybalers to record more than two consecutive points.

In the first game the Monarchs quickly jumped out to a 6-3 lead courtesy of a Bethany Johansen spike and allowed the Haybalers to creep within two when San Benito’s middle blocker Melissa Moore pounded a point.

Mitty reeled off six more points before the Haybalers could respond. In the second game the Monarchs sprinted out to a six-point lead and never looked back.

The third game featured a livelier Haybalers squad. Early in the game San Benito effectively attacked the net and used its powerful serving game to pull ahead.

Outside hitter Jacky Denton’s jump serve gave the Haybalers a 4-3 lead and middle blocker Kaylie Kortsen’s ace pushed the lead to 5-3.

The Haybalers seemed ready to make a run and possibly extend it to four games but Mitty’s domineering defense kept standing in the way.

“We wanted to put them away in the third game,” said Mitty Coach Almazan-Cezar.

The Monarchs frontline of Allen, Johansen and Christina Kirk combined for 28 kills while the team had a hitting percentage of .500.

Almazan-Cezar admitted he has seen the Haybalers play better but will take the win and the state tournament berth nonetheless.

Nabzeska and the Haybalers closed the season as the most successful women’s volleyball team in the history of the school.

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