NORTHEAST GLENDALE â€” While the Glendale Adventist Academy boys' volleyball team was able to breeze through its season opener on Wednesday despite some early season miscues, Thursday was a different story.
The competition ratcheted up a notch in the form of visiting Orangewood Academy and the Cougars were not able to overcome the serving and hitting errors that flared up this time around.
The Cougars showed some glimpses of how bright the future might be, but eventually were not able to keep pace with the powerful Spartans in a 25-16, 16-25, 25-11, 25-16 loss.
â€œThey were definitely a better team,â€ Cougars junior Stewart Budge said of the Spartans. â€œYesterday's team wasn't as strong. I think we got a little more frustrated today with how we were playing.
â€œI still saw a lot of good come out of us. We were playing really well with each other. We had some nice hits, digs and everything.â€
Budge, who tallied five kills and 11 digs, and Finster Paul, who notched seven kills and three aces, were two of the bright spots for the Cougars. Setter Eshban Lee dished out 14 assists.
Glendale Adventist (1-1) played Orangewood point for point early in the first game. An ace from Paul and a kill by Lee vaulted the Cougars, the defending Westridge League champions, in front, 11-10.
But the Spartans roared back, tallying eight straight points, all coming on Cougars errors, to distance themselves and go on to take the game.
â€œWe are still seeing where they are at,â€ Cougars Coach Ken Vigilia said. â€œWe obviously see a lot that we need to work on. It's a lot of the little mental mistakes that we need to fix.â€
The momentum swayed Glendale Adventist's direction in the second game, as the Cougars seemed to have figured out what ailed them in the first.
Two quick aces from Jordan Khoe helped spur the team to an early 6-1 bulge. While Orangewood rallied to take the lead back at 12-11, three straight kills courtesy of Paul ignited the Cougars the rest of the game.
â€œWe had our intensity way up [in that game],â€ Budge said. â€œWe started out strong and just kept going strong the entire time.â€
Glendale Adventist was never able to recapture that intensity in the final two games as the Spartans, out of the Western Athletic Conference, grabbed early 12-5 leads in both games to put the match out of reach.
Orangewood outside hitter Brett Schultz gave the young Cougars fits all day, as he finished with a match-high 14 kills.
â€œWe kind of got them relaxed and into a rotation they were more comfortable with [in Game Two],â€ said Vigilia, who was absent during the team's season-opening sweep of Hillcrest Christian. â€œThey got comfortable with it, but then with it being all new, I tried something new again [in the third game] and unfamiliarity I guess got them shaken up again.â€
The Cougars appear to have their hands full if they want to make a return trip to the CIF playoffs.
They will look to regroup at 5 p.m. on Tuesday when they host Lancaster Desert Christian.
â€œThere are only two returning players to varsity and it will take some time to get better, but I think we'll do it,â€ Budge said.