By GERARDO RECINOS
As recently as last season the Lady Bulldog’s games could be described with a single clichéd phrase. “They made them earn it.”
It was a catch-all term used as a form of consolation in the case of a loss wherein the team they matched up against was just better. This season games where the varsity volleyball team made the other guys earn it may be more aptly described as disappointments.
Not because they played poorly, but because they played well enough to win, as they did in their 3-1 loss on Thursday night to the Miramonte Matadors in the Diablo Foothill Athletic League opener.
Twice in their four sets, the Bulldogs could have stolen set from the Mats. One would have given them the lead, and as a result the second could have given them the win.
In all four sets Miramonte played well, with hitters like junior Caroline Schaffer who were not only showed authority in her hitting, but also a deft touch when needed. Her performance in the opening set, and all throughout left the Bulldogs reeling at times.
The Bulldogs got within a point once in the opening set after senior Lexy Swenson’s ace, but couldn’t catch up with the Mats in the opening set loss.
In the second set, the Bulldogs got off to a hot start, correcting some of their shortcomings, and reeled off an 8-1 run. Kills from the recently returned junior Ainise Taimani (left), freshman Sterling Parker and sophomore Gabby Chase opened the second set. Taimani had 16 kills on the night.
While the big lead slowly faded as Miramonte worked their way back into the match, it was much too late for them to recover. Alhambra’s hitters took advantage of the space on the court and stretched the lead.
Taimani, who played a great game, had four kills in the second half of the set, but it was senior Haley Jones who came in after a short period of rest as a closer to round out the set win. Jones had 10 kills on the night.
In the third set the Bulldogs were nearly gifted an opportunity to go ahead, as some poor officiating handed Miramonte some adversity they didn’t need. Twice calls by the line judge were overruled.
After trailing nearly the entire third set, the Bulldogs rallied to even it up at 22-22 late on due to great service from junior Maddie Gray. Swenson’s block brought Alhambra within one before Taimani’s kill evened it up, forcing Miramonte to take a timeout to slow down the Bulldogs.
Just a few seconds later another Taimani kill evened it up at 23-23, but Claire Swan’s kill and a net violation ended Alhambra’s hopes of stealing the set, and put them down 2-1.
In the fourth set the Dogs only had a shot late on, but were foiled by late calls that Coach Willie Marchesano was visibly against. After falling behind by as much as nine points, the Bulldogs did rally to bring the score to 21-16.
The two teams split the next eight points down the middle, and Miramonte took the win at home to hand Alhambra their first loss of the season.
With the loss the Bulldogs go to 12-1 on the season, (0-1, DFAL).