Capping off a winning season: Girls’ volleyball wins CCS

Head+Coach+Nick+Monroe+gives+his+team+a+pep+talk+in+their+25-9%2C+25-8+and+25-23+victory+against+Archie+Williams+High+School+in+the+second+round+of+NorCal+playoffs+on+Nov.+11.

Jake Rothstein

Head Coach Nick Monroe gives his team a pep talk in their 25-9, 25-8 and 25-23 victory against Archie Williams High School in the second round of NorCal playoffs on Nov. 11.

Michelle Moshkovoy, Head Photographer

“Ooh ah, you wish you were a Panther! Ooh ah, you wish you were a Panther!,” the Burlingame girls’ volleyball varsity team roared in unison before hitting the court, where they won 26 of their 33 games.

 First-year head coach Nick Monroe preached the importance of building a family and synergy throughout the 2021-2022 season — and the talented team of Panthers took those sentiments to heart.

Sweeping Westmoor High School and Half Moon Bay High School after a successful regular season campaign at 21-6, No. 1 seed Burlingame bested Santa Cruz High School 25-19, 25-13 and 25-18 to clinch the program’s second Division III Central Coast Section (CCS) title in three years. 

Seeded No. 3 in NorCal playoffs, they won in straight sets in their first two rounds against Clovis East High School and Archie Williams High School, before falling to No. 2 seed Redwood High School 18-25, 19-25 and 14-25 in the regional semi-finals — finishing the season ranked 43rd in California, according to MaxPreps.

“If you told me at the beginning of the season that we were going to get as far as we did, I probably wouldn’t have believed you,” senior middle Keegan Boyse said. “It was super cool to get better together, become a team and get closer.”

Opting to play club volleyball amid the COVID-19 pandemic last season, the roster featured many players entering their first year for Burlingame. However, with seniors outside hitter Emma Madden, libero Kristi Lee and Boyse from the 2019 section title team at the helm, the Panthers navigated an even keel of youth and experience.

“[The seniors] really welcomed me on and off the court. It was really nice having people who always started a conversation or just brought me into the team,” sophomore outside hitter Morgan Toomey said. 

That even keel translated to the court, with the top three leaders in kills being Madden with 363, Toomey with 202 and freshman right-side hitter Ella Duong with 188. 

The underclassmen and juniors also taught the seniors lessons this season. For Boyse, freshman middle Abbi Aufhauser, who plays the same position as her, struck a particular chord. 

“It’s been so nice seeing her get into the swing of the sport. When I was a freshman, I was on JV, just like she was at the beginning of the season. And it just reminded me of younger me, which was super cute and just crazy to imagine they’re only freshmen; they have so much further to go,” Boyse said. “I just like seeing that passion in someone who’s a little younger too.”

Senior Kristen Condon echoed a similar sentiment to Boyse as she bids farewell to a memorable group.

“I have met some of the most talented players this year. No matter how old they are — they could be 14 to 18 — it does not matter,” Condon said. “You’re all on one team, and I’ve never met the most funny girls, comedians, everything.” 

The season was especially bittersweet for Madden, Lee and Boyse, who leave Burlingame with two CCS banners donning their names. 

“I hope we brought a feeling of camaraderie, community and just getting to know your teammates — becoming friends with everyone,” Boyse said. “There’s all this stuff about volleyball, like playing volleyball and being a team. But at the end of the day, something that you can never replicate is getting to know those people on your team.” 

Looking into the future, led by a core group of returning players who have the experience of winning a section title, the Panthers hope to pay their success forward next season.