LA CRESCENTA — Having played only two contests leading up to Tuesday afternoon's Pacific League opener against Glendale High, the members of the Crescenta Valley girls' volleyball team had taken advantage of sharpening their skills during a plethora of practice sessions.
While the Falcons would like to pick up more match experience, the practices haven't seemed to deter their ability to get the job done on the court.
"I think it's an advantage of having more practice time," said Crescenta Valley senior outside hitter Leah Gagliardi, who finished with a team-high 15 kills and 11 digs Tuesday to spark host Crescenta Valley to a 25-22, 25-21, 25-18 victory. "We have some stuff that we need to work on."
Crescenta Valley, which improved to 2-1, received 27 assists from junior setter Payton Wheeler and seven kills from junior middle blocker Kira Guarino to win the first of the two meetings this season against Glendale (2-3). The teams will meet again Oct. 14 at Glendale, which might be without starting middle blocker/outside hitter April Reed for the bulk of the season after the senior suffered a right-ankle injury Sept. 14.
Glendale Coach Jennifer Vo said the Nitros didn't come out and match Crescenta Valley's intensity.
"We played better in our nonleague matches," said Vo, who got eight kills from senior outside hitter Trish Nubla and seven from junior middle blocker/outside hitter Satine Iskandaryan. "We could have come out with more energy.
"Our offense wasn't too bad, but we need to work on our defense more."
Gagliardi, a reigning All-Area second-team member, proved to be at her best during the late stages of each game. For instance, with the Falcons clinging to a 19-18 lead in the first game, Gagliardi came through with three kills to cap a 6-4 run.
Gagliardi broke a 14-14 deadlock in the second game by pounding a ball past a pair of Glendale defenders. She then came through with an ace to give Crescenta Valley an 18-14 lead. She finished with six kills to help the Falcons complete the sweep.
Guarino had Crescenta Valley's final three kills of the match.
"I would rather have had us maybe playing in a tournament leading up to league so that way we could get some more repetitions," said Crescenta Valley first-year Coach Steven Umemoto, who got six kills from senior outside hitter Katie Rinder. "Hopefully, we'll be able to iron some things out."