Lady Vaqs Lose Valiantly to Citrus

Derek Stowe

Even with outside hitter Jessica “smash-the-ball” Alvarez, the Lady Vaqs could not muster enough fight, losing three out of four sets to the Citrus College Owls 25-13, 25-18, 26-24 and 25-20 in its final challenge of the season on Nov. 16.

Because this was their last time playing together, GCC was honoring sophomores Jessica Alvarez, Cindyline Sevilla, Roxanne Domines, Ana Flores and Brittany Frederick.

In an invigorating match-up, the Lady Vaqs gave game one to the Owls but came back strong in game two to win it 25-18. The boisterous crowd was on its feet during most of the game-three nail-biter. Although Alvarez showed her usual aggression, she missed a few too many spikes, and some simple last-minute errors really hurt the Vaqueros.

Citrus Coach Shin Jung said it was the ability to make quick adjustments that enabled his team to dust-off the forceful Lady Vaqs.

“Glendale made a lot of good adjustments in the second set,” he said. “They did a lot of roll-shot tips on us. In the third set we got lucky. [The Vaqs] had a five-point lead at the beginning, and we just had to chip away. My girls did a good job of staying calm and not trying to over-swing. It was a very fun match to watch and a fun match to coach.”

GCC Coach Yvette Ybarra didn’t have much to say after the disheartening loss. Ending the roller-coaster season on a sour note was not what she had in mind. “We just lost our momentum,” she said. “I did see some good things, but the things that hurt us were the things that hurt us all season long.”

Ybarra was referring to errors such as dropped balls, bad blocks, missed serves and hands in the net. Also, players need clear communication and teamwork-point out openings, put up good sets, warn where the ball might go and keep everyone’s energy up.

Throughout the night, the fans cheered like GCC might somehow eke out a win, but to no avail.

With a height advantage at the net, the Owls kept up a solid three-woman wall that was largely impenetrable. Some balls came back like lightning and were clearly going out, but the Vaqs tried to return the impossible shots anyway.

Courtney Reid, former middle blocker for GCC volleyball said, “It’s hard. Every game is different. That’s why the practice drills really pay off. Coach Ybarra is really a wonderful coach. She finds out what each player’s strengths are and how to improve their weaknesses.”

Co-captain Alvarez, who had 16 kills, 21 hitting attempts and 13 hitting errors, said the Vaqs energy just plummeted in set three. “We should have been on the same page from the start. We never got that connection between each other – it takes solid teamwork.”

Co-captain and setter Roxanne Domines, who had 25 setting assists, one kill and three hitting attempts, said the Vaqs played this game so much better than their other games, but they just didn’t finish it right. “Our errors hurt us. Whenever I can, I look over at Coach for the play to set, and she’s always right.”

Outside hitter Cindyline Sevilla, who had seven kills, 13 hitting attempts and 10 hitting errors, said the Vaqueros gave it their all. “It was our last game so at least we know that we tried hard. But we need a lot of communication, energy on the court and we have to work hard.”

Outside hitter and middle blocker, freshmen Sara Kert who had 11 kills, 14 hitting attempts and four hitting errors said, “I’m coming back next year. We need to work together, always having each other’s back. [For example,] if somebody makes a mistake, tell them, its OK, you got the next one.”

Encouraging each other and working together is the name of the game, said Kert. “That’s what makes you a better player – to find that strength in yourself to bounce back after an error. The season was pretty rough, but I think it was a learning season. We learned from our mistakes, and I learned so much in this season – how important teamwork is and how important your attitude on the court is.”
“I wish we could rewind and take that [as a] win,” said assistant coach Maria Olilang. “But you win some, you lose some. If they want it [bad enough], they’ll take it.”

Olilang, who’s in charge of recruitment, said that this fall, she went to as many high school games as she could to find recruits for next season.

Capping off the season with a great effort yet tough loss brought the women’s volleyball record to a final 6 and 17. Losing a well-played game was bitter-sweet for the Lady Vaqs as well as for their fans, but the sophomores closed out the season with honor nonetheless. For the remaining freshmen at least, there’s always next year.