For the second straight year, the Amador Valley girls' water polo team has made a nice run in the North Coast Section playoffs.
And for the second straight year, they are doing it in breathtaking fashion, beating Washington 10-9 in double overtime in the quarterfinals.
A depleted roster, further complicated when two of their starters fouled out, the Dons were forced to turn to a bench of players who had limited game time this year.
"I'm so proud of this team," Amador coach Tim Reilly said. "It was a true team effort. They have played in high-pressure situations with the game on the line, but this showed a whole new level of maturity."
Reilly pointed out seniors Erin Brown, Evelyn McLaughlin and Kate Harris for stepping up, but also was quick to point out the amazing maturation of freshman Susan Swyers.
"I knew it was coming as she gained more confidence throughout the season," Reilly said. "Susan showed up! For a freshman to come up big like that was huge."
The Dons were down one with a touch over a minute left in the second overtime. McLaughlin -- the leading scorer for the Dons -- drove down to the left post, drawing the attention of three defenders.
Swyers found herself on the right side and seeing McLaughlin being blanketed, drove toward the middle of the cage. McLaughlin got the ball to Swyers, who had a defender on her as well.
Swyers got to the ball, then launched a shot from seven meters out that found the upper right corner to tie the game.
"Seniors make plays like that, not freshmen," Reilly said of the goal.
But the game was not over. Amador all-world goalie Erin Brown got the ball on an Amador stop, then dropped a dime to a breaking Swyers.
Swyers then took on a pair of defenders, drawing an exclusion foul to give the Dons a 6 vs. 5 power play with 46 seconds left in the second overtime.
After a timeout to call a play, the Dons executed flawlessly as Harris passed to Swyers, who in turn found McLaughlin and the senior made good, scoring with 27 seconds left.
Washington had one final chance, but another Amador stop resulted in the thrilling win and sending Amador on to the semifinals
Brown ended blocking 24 of 33 shots, racking up an amazing 73% save percentage.
Some other notes from the game saw Swyers playing the entire game, and Harris battling through the flu staying in throughout the game as well.
McLaughlin had been at least double-teamed throughout the game, and suffered a pair of blows to the face, but stayed to team with Swyers in the final minute of the game to win the match.
NCS girls' volleyball
The East Bay Athletic League turned the girls Division I tournament into its own party with four EBAL teams making up the semifinals.
Monte Vista was the top seed but was taken out by No. 4 Foothill, as the Falcons posted a thrilling upset 15-25, 25-17, 25-19, 29-27 to grab a spot in the finals.
The other semi saw second-seeded San Ramon Valley take out third-seeded Amador Valley 25-19, 25-22, 25-17.
In the finals, the Wolves took out the Falcons 25-21, 25-20, 25-20. All four EBAL teams advanced on to the CIF State Tournament.
Editor's note: Dennis Miller is a contributing sports writer for the Pleasanton Weekly. To contact him about his Pleasanton Preps column, email [email protected]