It was the first time Anzar had the opportunity to host a Central Coast Section playoff game, and the packed arena wanted everyone to know.
Cheering for every point like it was the last of the season, the crowd support aided the fourth-seeded Hawks, who finished their season 19-10, to a dominate 3-0 victory over Crystal Springs Upland on Thursday in the first round of the CCS Division V playoffs.
Behind a monster game from Sydnee Masuen, who tallied a game-high 34 assists, the Hawks blew away the Gryphons from the first game.
The Hawks started the match with a quick pace, thanks to the emotional lift of the packed gym.
“I don’t think we’ve had that big of a crowd,” senior Alex Flores said. “It was so nice to have that support. Any mistake we made or good point, they were always there for us.”
Flores mostly benefited from Masuen’s assists, striking 24 kills and 14 digs in the victory.
“I believe this was Sydnee’s best setting game that’s she’s ever had,” Flores said.
Nobody would argue that – including Masuen.
“It was my best setting game of the year,” she said. “When we started, I was really nervous – all day I’ve been really nervous. But it’s just the fact that if I do something wrong, I know I have my team behind me and they’ll support me even if I blow a set or anything. I know I have them for support.”
Head coach Chris Wardlaw was impressed by his team’s resourcefulness and the multiple players that contributed to the win.
“I’ve just been pushing the girls all season,” he said. “The last two weeks our middles have gotten a little sharper. Everyone today was hitting with confidence.”
Raleigh McKinney added nine kills and Monica Cornwell added five kills for the Hawks in the win. And libero Mali Gonzalez contributed 22 digs.
In the win, the Hawks were so dominant, they only trailed in the opening minutes of the second game – an eventual 25-17 win.
In the first game, Anzar built a big lead, only to have Crystal Springs make a late game run. After the Gryphons pulled the score to 22-19, the Hawks pulled away with a dominating effort from Flores and Masuen.
It was the first time, seniors Masuen and Flores won a CCS playoff game.
“In one way a weight lifted off my shoulders,” Flores said. “Now it’s putting so much more drive in me so I can push through and win these next few games.”
The Hawks will now face No. 1 seed Woodside Priory (23-4) at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Alma Heights.