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In the News: Colts Forge Tie for Ocean Lead

El Camino’s Penelope Madayag (l) and Italia Ghilarducci celebrate the Colts’ five-set win over Woodside to pull even with the Wildcats atop the PAL Ocean Division standings
El Camino’s Penelope Madayag (l) and Italia Ghilarducci celebrate the Colts’ five-set win over Woodside to pull even with the Wildcats atop the PAL Ocean Division standings. (Source: Terry Bernal, San Mateo Daily Journal
Colts forge tie for Ocean lead
By Nathan Mollat Daily Journal staff 
October 11, 2023
The last thing El Camino girls’ volleyball coach Apollo Madayag told him team as it took the floor for a showdown with host Woodside was: “This is for the championship right here.”
Woodside and El Camino have proven to be head and shoulders better than the rest of the competition in the Peninsula Athletic League’s Ocean Division this season. Woodside came into the match undefeated in Ocean play, having lost just one set through the first nine matches of the season.
That one loss came during a 25-23, 25-15, 20-25, 25-23 win over El Camino Sept 14.
The Colts, meanwhile, have been equally impressive, having lost just six sets in league play — three coming to the Wildcats.

While there are still five matches left to play in the regular season, the math was simple Tuesday night: a Woodside win and the Wildcats, most likely, finish as Ocean Division champs.
An El Camino win would pull the Colts into a first-place tie with the Wildcats — which they accomplished with a 25-19, 25-18, 12-25, 13-25, 15-11 victory.
Considering how dominant both teams have been this season, it would be a shock if either one lost the rest of the way.
“It was a great game. Very competitive,” Madayag said. “For our seniors, this was their last chance to win a championship.”
Emotions were already running high on the Woodside sideline, as the Wildcats celebrated Senior Day, with nine players in their final season getting heart-felt messages from their younger teammates.
Those emotions ramped up during the match and as the line judges struggled with calls, the players started getting more and more testy with one another. Finger points and flexes started to creep into the match, leading the head official to call both coaches to the side ahead of the fifth game to tell them to tell their players to cool it with the antics.
It certainly didn’t take away from the drama in the final set. El Camino raced out to a two sets to none lead, only to see Woodside claw their way back into the match, by dominating games 3 and 4.
Game 5 was a race to 15 points and was really a microcosm of the entire match as neither team gave an inch. In that final game, Woodside (9-1 PAL Ocean, 13-8 overall) jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead on back-to-back kills from Arielle Bruk and a hitting error by El Camino (9-1, 13-4).

Woodside eventually pushed its lead to 4-2 before El Camino made a run. Cherianne Cuartero got a roof block for a point for a sideout, which was followed by an Italia Ghilarducci kill to tie the set at 4-all. A Rianna Petterson ace gave the Colts a 5-4 lead and Woodside net violation pushed the Colts’ advantage to 6-4.
But the Wildcats responded by winning five of the next six points for an 8-7 lead after Greta Kasle rifled a winner down the line.
Another Woodside error tied the game and kickstart a 5-0 run for Colts, punctuated by three straight service aces from Ghilarducci for a 12-8 El Camino lead.
A tip from Woodside’s Megan Davis and an El Camino rotation violation kept the Wildcats in the match, but El Camino closed it out with back-to-back kills from Penelope Madayag.
Woodside’s Maya Wik tries to tip the ball over the El Camino block in Game 1 of the Wildcats’ five-set loss to the Colts.
Woodside’s Maya Wik tries to tip the ball over the El Camino block in Game 1 of the Wildcats’ five-set loss to the Colts. (Source: Terry Bernal, San Mateo Daily Journal)
“Between [Ghilarducci] and Penelope, they score most of our points,” Coach Madayag said.
Ghilarducci would end up leading the Colts with 12 kills. Penelope Madayag added nine, while Petterson and Keilani Der combined for 13 kills.
The fifth set was the thrilling end to a thrilling match. Davis, who is by far Woodside’s leading hitter, got off a slow start, with just four kills through the first two games. She and fellow hitter Bruk found their rhythm, however, and the Wildcats’ offense took off in the third set. Davis had 12 of her 18 kills in the second and third games, while Bruk had 11 of her 19 kills in that same span. Throw in nine more kills from Mia Reyes and the Wildcats went from facing a sweep to forcing a Game 5.
Not surprisingly, the Wildcats cruised in those middle sets.

“In the first two games, we gave [Woodside] everything (energy-wise),” Coach Madayag said. “We gassed out in the third.”
The first two sets, however, were all El Camino. Woodside led just once in the first two games, 2-1 in Game 1, as the Wildcats were sloppy and inconsistent. In those first two games, they committed 26 errors.
And the Colts were more than happy to take the free points. After a Woodside block for a 2-1 lead in Game 1, the Colts won five points in a row and eight of nine as they opened up a 9-3 lead.
El Camino maintained a healthy lead for most the first set, but Woodside steadily chipped away its deficit. The Wildcats closed to 21-18 following an ace from Reyes, but El Camino would win four of the final five points to take the win.
In Game 2, the Colts won the first point and never trailed. Woodside kept it close, however, never trailing by more than a couple points in a game that saw five ties.
The last came at 15-all and El Camino responded by dominating down the stretch, as the Wildcats managed just three more points the rest of the set.
“They got us the first time around. We didn’t know how to cover their tips. This time, we figured it out,” Coach Madayag said. “Even if we lost, I’d still be happy because we played well.”