Special to the Valley Sun
Things were looking good for the Crescenta Valley girls' varsity volleyball team in the first set of their nonleague home match against Verdugo Hills last week.
The Lady Falcons had nearly finished the first set in the Sept. 24 match and had a 23-16 lead. CV appeared to be in complete control of the contest as senior outside hitter Rachel Gagliardi dominated Verdugo Hills with her hard spikes.
"We were passing and setting the ball well," said CV coach Jennifer Kunz-Ryan. "We did a good job of keeping the ball in play."
Unfortunately for the Lady Falcons, things turned sour late in the set, a trend that would continue throughout the match. The Dons notched four consecutive points to pull within three, 23-20. A time-out by CV did little to turn things around for the Lady Falcons, as they allowed another Verdugo Hills' run. After five straight points, the Dons won the first set, 25-23.
The Lady Falcons went on to lose in straight sets (25-23, 25-21, 25-18) to drop to 3-4 on the season. Although they played hard and seemed to have the talent to stay with the Dons, the Lady Falcons were unable to complete the job in any of the three sets.
"We just didn't finish well," said Kunz-Ryan. "We need to be more mentally focused and do a better job of stopping the other team's runs late in sets."
In the second set, CV grabbed a 15-10 advantage but could not hold on as Verdugo Hills pulled into a tie at 20-20, before finishing off the Lady Falcons with a 5-1 run.
The Dons took a much greater degree of control in the third set, storming out to a 9-5 lead. After the ensuing CV time-out, the Lady Falcons roared back to tie the set at 13 behind Gagliardi, who scored three consecutive points, including an ace.
In the end, however, it was the same old story, as Verdugo Hills finished strong and took the match with a 25-18 win in the third set.
Junior Crystal Perryman's 15 kills and classmate Jennifer Espindola's 35 assists led the Dons. For the Lady Falcons, Gagliardi recorded 14 kills and five aces, while senior Sandi Soderstrom had 19 assists.
Despite the loss, Kunz-Ryan remains optimistic about her team.
"I think that we are ahead of where we were at this time last year. Every game, different players are improving. Our goal is to get better every day," the coach said.