LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — During the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy volleyball team's 17-25, 25-20, 25-21, 25-18 home loss to Chaminade in its Mission League opener on Tuesday night, Tologs Coach Ann Arlie found her team lacking in desire.
Just as troubling, Arlie noted something else has been missing from the squad this season, namely the swagger that formerly accompanied a program accustomed to winning league titles.
"In all honesty, I don't think that our team has the attitude any more of, 'We're Sacred Heart and we're gonna win,'" said Arlie of the Tologs, who won four league titles from 2003-06 and have finished second behind Harvard-Westlake the last three seasons. "They're a very afraid team. They don't play with a level of confidence that is portrayed on the court, as it should be, and that's what we need to work on."
The Eagles, who, before beating the Tologs in five games at Chaminade last October hadn't taken a single game in any of the two annual league meetings since November 2006, have seemingly closed the gap between the two programs.
Chaminade looked shaky at the end of a first-game defeat that ended with a 7-2 Tologs run and a game-clinching kill by senior outside hitter Camille Coffey, who led Sacred Heart (5-8) with 22 kills and had 13 digs.
But the Eagles quickly rebounded midway through the second game, taking the lead at 13-12 and never giving it back. The third game turned into a battle, with Sacred Heart, which got 12 kills from Alyssa Walton and 10 from Katherine Rubschlager, pulling within one at 20-19 on a Coffey kill.
Chaminade (8-7) answered with a kill by Alex Nyman and back-to-back aces by Reagan Clark to get some separation en route to a clinching kill by Nyman.
"We can't get on a roll," said Arlie, who got 18 digs from libero Dana Budzyn. "First game, we were excited — too excited — and then we let our guard down. They capitalized on all our mistakes, which is what a good team would do."
The fourth game was also close entering the home stretch, as the Tologs trailed, 16-15, after a block by Rubschlager before a 9-3 run highlighted by back-to-back aces from Jessica Israel sealed the win.
"They wanted it more, absolutely," said Arlie, who took over the team this season after several seasons as an assistant. "In everyone's face and attitude, on Chaminade's team they just wanted it more.
"We played afraid and when you play afraid, you're going to lose. You're going to make mistakes because you're afraid to make mistakes and, therefore, you're not having a winning attitude."