On Thursday night, the girls volleyball team lost to the Sacred Heart (SHP) Gators in four sets, 19-25, 25-19, 11-25, and 21-25. Despite the loss, the high energy on the court was met with high energy on the stands as spectators cheered on the Bears in their first game of the season.
A deep swing from junior Daniela Eline secured the third point of the game in an early three point run for M-A, but the Gators quickly caught up and took the lead with their powerful offense. Kills from Eline, junior Sienna Morales, and senior Aria Sokol shortened the Gators’ lead, yet the Bears ultimately fell short in the first set, which ended with a score of 19-25. Despite trailing early, the Bears remained hopeful, and, according to junior Sarah Littlefield, “[The team] had a lot of energy in the beginning.”
Sokol scored two aces at the start of the second set, helping the Bears secure an early lead. Junior Duru Ruacan’s kill down the line and senior Samantha Lin’s impressive right-side cross-court hit had the crowd erupting. With Lin’s ace, the Bears emerged victorious and the second set ended at 25-19.
Together, junior Meki Maile and Littlefield along with Lin and Sokol successfully blocked strong hitters in the third set. Junior Kiela King led the defense as libero and made multiple astonishing saves, diving everywhere on the court to keep the ball up. However, they were met with a couple tools and an overpowering offense on the Gators’ part which increased SHP’s lead substantially. Sacred Heart’s serve-receive was also better. “They were in system more often and put up a really big block,” said Ruacan. The set ended with a blocking error by M-A and the Bears lost 11-25.
The fourth set started with a four point lead for the Bears after two aces from Ruacan. Tips from Sokol and Eline kept the Gators on their toes. However, the Bears’ defense was unprepared for Sacred Heart’s consistently strong hits and serves. The final point ended with multiple players on the ground diving for a ball that landed right in the hole of the M-A defense. Despite the hustle, the Bears came up short and lost the set in a close game, finishing with a score of 21-25.
Eline, who ended the night with the most kills per set and highest hitting percentage, concluded, “I think we should just keep working on improving our connections, which we somewhat have already because many of us have been playing together for three years. Serve-receive and defense are the key to winning.”
Ruacan reflected, “We dropped our energy level at certain points, so we should have been more consistent throughout the game.”
This game against M-A’s cross-town rivals was a learning experience for the team and the Bears remain optimistic for the season. Eline said, “We’re getting stronger as we go. Last year SHP swept us, and this year we at least won one set.”
The Bears are scheduled to play against tough competition, especially the non-league teams. According to Ruacan, “Our goals are to make it to CCS and to play hard even against the best teams.”
The Bears will return to the court tomorrow against the Valley Christian Warriors.