On the surface, it looked as if the Flintridge Sacred Heart girls’ volleyball team had everything under control in the opening game Monday in a nonleague match against South Pasadena.
The Tologs played with intensity, looked motivated and played well in the early going, which set the tone for the match.
However, under the surface, some of the Flintridge Sacred Heart players were a bit nervous. That’s because the Tologs know many players on the South Pasadena side and some even play on the same club team.
Despite the possible distraction, the Tologs dictated action in the first and second games and, although the Tigers battled in the third, it just wasn’t enough, as Flintridge Sacred Heart rolled to a 25-16, 25-20, 25-22 road win against the Tigers.
“I saw a lot of nerves out there on our side in the beginning,” said Flintridge Sacred Heart Coach Ernest Banaag, whose squad is ranked No. 9 in the latest CIF Southern Section Division I-A poll. “Because a lot of our girls know a lot of the girls on their team, that made it a little tough for them.
“It just felt like we just didn’t come out with the kind of urgency that we did in our other two matches. In our last two matches, I thought we came out with more of a sense of urgency and we were trying to put teams away more.”
Flintridge Sacred Heart (3-0), which finished third in the Mission League last season, looks to have a solid contributor in freshman outside hitter Kayla Lund. Against a formidable South Pasadena (1-1) front line, Lund got her share of swings and ended with 13 kills.
“I thought we came out with a lot of intensity and that’s something that we like to see,” she said. “We knew that South Pas was going to be a good team, so we knew we had to play our best against them.”
Maddie Peterson added seven kills for the Tologs.
Right from the get-go, Flintridge Sacred Heart jumped out to a 7-1 advantage in the first.
Despite the efforts of the Tigers and standout outside hitter Claire Kieffer-Wright (eight kills), they wouldn’t cut the lead to less than six points over the course of the rest of the stanza.
More than half (13) of South Pasadena’s points in the first game came on unforced errors.
“Claire is just a very good player,” Banaag said. “We were hoping she would stay in the back row as much as possible. We just hope they don’t set her as much. But I thought we did a good job at limiting her, so she didn’t get more kills.”
In the second game, the Tologs couldn’t maintain more than a four-point lead in the early going. South Pasadena did continue to battle, however, and when Kate Kutzer and Kieffer-Wright delivered a combo block, the Tigers had climbed to within one, 11-10.
Flintridge Sacred Heart was able to stave off the comeback attempt, however, and when Megan Bacall came through with a kill, the lead was increased to six, 19-13. The Tigers did get to within three, 22-19, but they couldn’t surge ahead.
The third game proved to be the closest, as the Tigers played much better than they did in the first two. South Pasadena enjoyed two leads in the stanza, the last coming at 15-14 on a perfectly executed slide kill by Kieffer-Wright. After the teams tied at 15 and 16, the Tologs embarked on a 7-0 run to take a 23-16 lead.
The Tigers did make it interesting, scoring six of the next seven points to get to within two, 24-22. But Lund ended the match with a powerful kill.
“We knew that South Pasadena wasn’t just going to roll over,” Banaag said. “In front of their home fans, we knew they were going to put up a fight.”