Falcons find flaws in first defeat

LA CRESCENTA — Tuesday’s home match against West Ranch High provided at least one benefit for a young Crescenta Valley girls’ volleyball team — a dose of experience.

It did not come in the form of a victory, as the Falcons were eventually downed, 25-19, 25-17, 25-14.

But, the next time they find themselves across the net from a team with size, good hitters and a lineup of strong servers this season, it won’t be the first.

“[The Wildcats] were a really good team and I’m glad we played them because it got us ready,” said senior outside hitter Maggie Rajtar of the nonleague contest. “We didn’t play at our top level today, so from here we’re just going to rise and get better.

“This showed us a lot of what we need to work on.”

The 2007 Falcons (1-1) are indeed a work in progress at this point of the season, having lost most of their key seniors from a year ago. Some holes in their passing and serve-receive game suggested that the team hasn’t yet perfected its chemistry and timing.

Crescenta Valley rebounded from a first game that ended abruptly with an ace, followed by three straight West Ranch kills.

With Rajtar serving, the Falcons built up a 5-1 lead in the second game behind an ace, a kill by Kelsey Warren and a block from Kim Cox.

They were able to maintain a lead of one or two points until West Ranch broke a 14-14 tie with a 6-0 run.

The third game also saw the Falcons hang in early before an 11-11 tie quickly slipped away in a match-clinching 14-3 run by the Wildcats (1-0).

West Ranch was led by outside hitter Allison Summers (13 kills), one of five Wildcats to record at least five kills.

Five-foot-11 middle blocker Austin Muir (three blocks, five kills) also was a presence.

For the most part, however, West Ranch’s edge came in its success in passing and setting the ball where its big hitters could make a play.

“Passing is always a challenge,” Falcons Coach Jennifer Ryan said. “That’s something that has been a weakness and we’ve been working on it.”

Rajtar said that the lapses on the Falcons side of the net, on which two high balls dropped uncalled, were uncharateristic for the team.

“I think that today our team was just really scrambled and everything was kind of mixed up and rushed,” she said. “We’re going to be a lot better and more focused.”

Added Ryan: “We need to be mentally ready at the start of every game.”

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