The intensity level was cranked up for the Tri-Valley League girls volleyball opener between Cate and  Foothill Tech on Thursday.

Cate let leads get away in the first two sets but came back and won a marathon match, 20-25, 24-26, 25-16, 29-27, 15-12.

“Foothill is a good defensive team,” Cate coach Greg Novak said. “Senior setter Maya Blattberg ripped several balls down line and Foothill’s libero was there to pop up the ball for an eventual point conversion. When you play a good defensive team, you can either keep ripping the ball or crumble; our team decided to maintain composure, stay aggressive, and keep ripping the ball.”

Sophomore middle Chidera Chukwumerije led the Rams with 17 kills on a .481 hitting percentage.

“Chidera has phenomenal talent as a sophomore, her reach is so high that she is virtually unstoppable at the net,” said Novak.

Elise Guerrand-Hermes followed up with 14 kills and Blattberg added 11 kills.

Charlotte Weis caused a lot of trouble at the service line at crucial moment. She recorded five aces out of 19 serves against a very strong passing team.

“Passing was key for us, and it was our libero, Grace Blankenhorn who shined,” said Novak. “Grace had 31 digs and passed a 2.38 on serve receive. We had four other players passing in the .200 mark which contributed to a remarkable 2.11 team passing average.”

For match point, Blankenhorn chased a ball down to the back wall and Grace Johnson managed to send the free ball at least 60 feet across the gym, deep into Foothill’s court which resulted in the match-winning point.

“It was definitely an exciting match for both teams and a great way to start the league season,” said Novak.

Cate (8-1, 1-0) hosts La Reina on Tuesday.

Noozhawk Sports Editor Barry Punzal can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

— Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.