Blazers open GEL strong
Playing in only its second match of the season Wednesday, Lindhurst High's varsity volleyball team looked like a seasoned unit in dispatching visiting Marysville in straight sets.
The visiting Indians (4-4 overall) never led in any of the three games, as they fell to the Blazers (2-0), 25-19, 25-20, 25-22. It was the Golden Empire League opener for both squads.
“We were just slow starting in the first two games,” Marysville assistant coach Christopher Abruscato said.
Lindhurst buried the Indians in deep holes in the first two games. The Blazers jumped out to an 8-1 lead in the first game thanks to a kill and an ace by Samantha Spade, and a tip by Lateric Johnson.
The Blazers enjoyed as much as an eight-point cushion before Marysville rallied. Kandice Herkert aced a couple of serves and slammed a kill, while Reese Boyer and Gemma Minetti both hammered kills to pull the Indians to within one, 18-17.
But, two unreturned serves by Alisha Benge and a block by Kristan Music helped Lindhurst open a 22-17 lead. Claudia Rivera ripped a kill off the net and Johnson served an ace for the final two points of the first game.
Lindhurst again started strong in the second game, opening an 8-1 lead, thanks to a couple of aces from Spade and a kill by Johnson. The Blazers led by as many as nine points before Marysville again mounted a comeback.
Sarah Walls started the Indian rally with a tip off the floor. Herkert followed with consecutive aces to pull Marysville within six, 19-13. Moments later, Minetti slammed a kill to close the gap to five, 20-15.
But, Lindhurst's Music blasted a kill from the back row and Soua Vang served an ace to halt the Indians' momentum.
Music, the Blazers' setter, recorded the final point of the second game when she deftly placed a quick tip down off the floor.
While Marysville struggled in the first two games, Abruscato noted one aspect of the Indians' game helped in their rallies.
“That was the best serving we've had so far this season,” Abruscato said.
Serving helped keep Marysville close in the final game. Down by five early on, Jennifer Smith served back-to-back aces to help pull the Indians within two, 9-7.
Several times during the game, Marysville fell behind by a few points only to rally and tie the game.
“We never could get over the hump,” Abruscato said, as the Indians could only tie the game and never take the lead.
The last time the game was knotted was at 17-17. Down the stretch, Spade came up with three kills for the Blazers, and Rivera had an ace to open the gap, 24-18. Herkert, however, rallied Marysville as she drilled a kill off a block for an Indian point. Chelsi Ferrari followed with two aces and Walls powered a spike from the back line to pull Marysville to within two, 24-22.
But, a hit long by the Indians gave the match to Lindhurst.
“I'm very proud of my girls,” Lindhurst coach Deana Straolzini said. “They played hard and they played well as a team.”
Johnson and Benge both had six kills for the Blazers, while Spade and Rivera each added five. Johnson had 16 digs and Vang had 14. Music had 21 assists. Benge had six aces.
Herkert had two kills, two blocks and four aces for Marysville. Walls had four kills and three tips. Tawsha Large had seven digs. Setter Ferrari had 10 assists.
The Appeal-Democrat's Richard Myers can be reached at 749-4714, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.