The Thousand Oaks High girls volleyball team wasn't beaten by San Gabriel in the state Division II girls volleyball semifinals as much as it was beaten by deafening noise.
The sound started as soon as San Gabriel's setters positioned themselves under the ball.
Hundreds of San Gabriel fans would start to yell--slowly at first, then building to a crescendo when the Matadors' Rachel Norris jumped to record another in what seemed an endless stream of kills.
By the time the noise died at San Gabriel High on Saturday night, Norris had 61 kills and the Matadors had a 15-9, 11-15, 12-15, 17-15, 15-8 victory over the Lancers.
"We neutralized her as well as any other team," Thousand Oaks Coach Ron Beick asserted.
Thousand Oaks (21-2) might have done a decent job of stopping Norris, but the 6-4 senior middle blocker was still potent enough to lead her team to the state final Saturday at Cal State Fullerton.
Ahead, 2-1 in games, Thousand Oaks was in position to win the match in the fourth game when the Lancers turned a 7-3 deficit into an 11-7 lead.
San Gabriel (22-1) came back to tie, 13-13, but Thousand Oaks scored the go-ahead point on a Matador error and was one point away from winning the match.
The Lancers couldn't do it, however. Jamie Heggen's spike was blocked and another went long, and San Gabriel tied the score, 14-14. The Matadors went ahead, 15-14, on a Norris stuff but Thousand Oaks tied it again on a Julie Chellevold spike. San Gabriel scored the final two points on an unreturnable serve and a back-row spike by Norris.
Norris was the Matadors' catalyst in the fifth game as San Gabriel jumped out to an 8-1 lead. Thousand Oaks got as close as 13-8 but Norris ended the game on another back-row kill.
"They made a lot of points on unforced errors in all three games they won," Beick said. "They made their points when we didn't hit the ball. When we lost it was because we were half-hitting the ball and dinking a lot."
Chellevold, a 5-8 senior, was the Lancers' dominating player, notching 38 kills. A first-team Southern Section 2-A outside hitter last year, Chellevold was the player Thousand Oaks turned to at each game point.
"She carried us in a lot of places when the other people didn't hit," Beick said.
Thousand Oaks won the Southern Section 2-A championship two weeks ago by beating Marmonte League opponent Newbury Park. San Gabriel, which won the Foothill League, beat Agoura in the 3-A championship.