LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE — Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy volleyball Coach Ernest Banaag couldn’t fault the effort turned in by his team Tuesday night.
While it’s been a process throughout the season with respect to the Tologs showing improvement, Banaag said it’s been tough seeing them lose the close games.
“They want to win so bad, and, when you lose the close games, you feel bad for them,” Banaag said after Louisville defeated host Flintridge Sacred Heart, 25-21, 25-23, 26-24, in a Mission League match. “I keep telling them they are getting better.
“Right now, it’s probably more to do with inexperience than it is skill. We are coming along, though.”
Sacred Heart (7-10, 4-4 in league) battled Louisville (24-4, 7-1) close Tuesday, just as it did during the first head-to-head meeting with the Royals on Oct. 4. In the first contest, Sacred Heart held a 2-0 lead in games before watching Louisville rally to win the next three games.
On Tuesday, Sacred Heart had its share of opportunities to win each game. However, the Tologs couldn’t solve the 1-2 punch of outside hitters Brianna Montgomery and Jasmine Burton.
Montgomery finished with 22 kills and Burton added 18.
“They have those big outside hitters,” said Banaag, who received 10 kills from outside hitter Meghan Lacey and nine kills and 16 digs from outside hitter Maddie Peterson. “You could sort of predict what kind of offense they were going to run and who they would go to.
“We felt like we played hard in each game, but just came up short.”
Louisville took a 15-13 lead in the first game on a kill by Burton. After the Royals took a 22-16 advantage, Sacred Heart got two consecutive kills from Lacey to close to within 22-20. Louisville then closed out the game on a 4-1 run.
The second game saw neither team own more than a two-point lead. Sacred Heart got a kill from Lacey to take a 13-12 lead. A kill by middle blocker Allison Clapp gave Sacred Heart a 20-18 lead. The Royals then capped the game by going on a 7-3 run.
In the third game, the Tologs received a kill from Katie Conley to knot it at 12. Sacred Heart rattled off five consecutive points late to take a 23-19 lead, forcing Louisville Coach Sabine Stork to call timeout.
The Royals responded following the timeout to take a 24-23 lead. A kill by Lacey tied it at 24 before a kill and block by Burton led to the Royals’ final two points to end the match.
“Jasmine and Brianna are forces to be reckoned with,” Stork said. “Our team tends to spread out and not talk to each other, but they reconnected well.
“Flintridge Sacred Heart is a well-rounded team and they utilize their players very well.”
Colleen Degnan had 20 digs for Sacred Heart, which got 15 digs from Emily Develle and nine kills from Conley.
Next up for Sacred Heart will be a league home match against Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, the defending league champion, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. The Tologs turned back the Knights in the first meeting Oct. 9 at Notre Dame.
“I expect to be facing an angry Notre Dame team,” Banaag said. “I know they will be hitting as hard as they can, and they won’t give us any breaks.”