Pirates Make Lady Vaqueros Walk Plank

Derek Stowe

The defending state champions from Orange Coast College slipped by the GCC women’s volleyball team last Wednesday night as the Vaqueros, inspired by aggressive outside hitter Jessica Alvarez, made a valiant effort, but lost to the Costa Mesa Pirates in four games, 26-24, 25-13, 25-18, and 25-21.

It was remarkable to see the lady Vaqs overcome a team with a clear height advantage and phenomenal hustle, even if it was only for a moment. The come-from-behind energy won them an exciting first game, and certainly got the 50 or so Glendale fans in attendance hoping for more. In fact, throughout the rest of the night, the spectators felt that GCC might somehow beat the defending state champions. But alas, those hopes kept slipping further and further away as the night went on.

“Game two really deflated us,” said Coach Yvette Ybarra after the unsettling 3-1 finish. Nonetheless, the struggle by her Vaqueros included several redeeming elements.

A handful of dropped balls made it 0-5 in the opening minutes of the first game, but Alvarez led the comeback with some powerful serves that made it 4-8. Soon, the score was 12-18, then 16-20. That’s when the lady Vaqs really turned up the heat, getting the next four scores until a hand in the net made it 20-21.

GCC tied it up at 23 in a series of high energy jumping blocks and power kills. The score was a tense 23-24 when a called time-out enabled coach Ybarra to give her players a pep-talk. She said, “Point out openings, be disciplined, and focus.”

What happened next, to the delight of the energized fans, was a series of three breath-taking points. Speared on by a spirited team effort, the women pulled off a sequence of high-velocity serves, careful setting assists and dominating kills to win the first game of the night and prove to the world that the Glendale Vaqueros were not going down without a fight.

Some of the overall game stats were the following: Jessica Alvarez had 13 kills, 15 hitting attempts, and 7 hitting errors; Brittany Frederick had 9 kills, 12 attempts, and 1 error; and Cindyline Sevilla had 3 kills, 22 attempts and 3 errors.

Nonetheless, compared to the Pirates’ Maddie Baird with 14 kills and Katherine Wichner with 13 kills, Glendale came up short.

In terms of setting assists, GCC’s Roxanne Domines had 25, while OCC’s Kimya Jafroudi had 39. What really hurt the Vaqs were the 58 digs the Knaves came up with. What should have been Vaq kills turned out to be Pirate saves.

After the game, one of the team’s three co-captains, Jessica Alvarez, said, “We knew they were a great team coming in, and we thought, ‘Just play our game with our tempo, and make them play our game.’ So I went in there with a killer attitude and said, ‘I want every single ball, and I’m going to kill every single ball no matter what.'”

As for what went wrong, she said, “I think there was a lot of miscommunication.not everybody was communicating. But we can learn from this game. We’ll take every little thing that we did wrong and we’ll make it right.”

When asked about that crucial serve that could have be the turning point of game four, she said, “I think I swung too low, but I think I’m the hardest person on myself . and I shouldn’t have missed that one. I think if I had made that one, it would have changed the game completely. We probably would have still been playing right now.”

When asked about the team strategy that turned around game one, she said, “It was just to keep everyone’s energy up. All you can do is pump your teammates up and say ‘Oh, we made a mistake? Let’s just get it back.’ Just make it up with a pass or make it up with a spike. Either way, encouragement is the key.”

Co-captain setter Roxanne Domines, who made a valiant effort by setting up 25 winning combinations, said, “We started good, but it was like a roller-coaster. We were up and down. I think we got tired so easily, and our defense was overall not consistent. It got to the point in that third set that the other team just seemed so far ahead it would be impossible to come back. Next time, I will communicate more, put good sets, and talk to the other players more.”

Racquel Valenzuela, who played most of the game in the back court, said, “I could have played better. There were a lot of balls that dropped in my area. So that affected my team. We did have some good plays, especially to come from behind in game one .and that’s what we needed to do throughout all of the four matches. They were pretty good hitters, but we’re pretty good hitters, too. I could have gotten more ups to Roxy (Roxanne Domines). I was nervous but I got over that, and I just need to be more consistent next time.”

Yessenia Ortega while icing down a sore shoulder, said, “Coming off the bench was pretty thrilling but at the same time, it was a little nerve-wracking. I tried to shake it off and play my game. I do a lot better at the net than the back because I have a hard time reading where the ball might go. I’ve got to give our starters a lot of props for taking all those hits-diving into the middle to save those balls-they really did a good job.”

Sara Kert had this to say about her team’s performance, “We beat ourselves, basically: our balls dropped, we had bad blocks, our hands kept going in the net, and our serves missed.”

All in all, the players wanted to put this game behind them and focus on their next match-up. If this year’s women’s volleyball team can clean up their drops, be more aware of the net and work on their consistency, they may have a chance for a winning season.

This loss to Orange Coast gives GCC a 1-1 record not including the tournament. After losing to Mt. San Antonio College and Riverside at a Tournament in Pasadena on Aug. 27, GCC came back to win their first home game Sept. 3 against Antelope Valley. Upcoming home games include Pasadena City College at 7 p.m. tonight and then Moorpark at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24.

The great potential exhibited in last Wednesday’s performance suggests that the lady Vaqueros’ 2010-2011 season will be one worth catching.