LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — The Sierra Canyon High girls' volleyball team clearly had more fire power when it visited Flintridge Prep on Tuesday.
However, the Rebels' defense did what it needed to contain the Trailblazers' powerful offense. Solid digging and defense is a formula Prep Coach Sean Beattie has relied on for the past 14 years, but it wasn't enough for a win Tuesday, as Sierra Canyon pulled out a five-game victory, 17-15, 25-13, 28-26, 18-25, 15-11.
"Offensively, I thought we did OK, we aren't going to play anyone's socks off [offensively]," Beattie said. "Defense is where I thought we were outstanding most of the game.
"I think it started frustrating them to the point where they started making mistakes. They keep hitting them hard and we're digging them and digging them and they start hitting them harder. That's when you start making mistakes."
Sierra Canyon committed 29 attacking errors in the match. Frustration is what Trailblazers' Coach Morgan Wijay feared coming into the game.
"Flintridge Prep is a scrappy, tough defensive team," Wijay said. "You can't take those kinds of teams lightly because defense creates momentum."
The first game of the day hinted the match would be a see-saw affair as Prep took an 18-7 advantage only to see the Trailblazers cut the lead to as little as 19-15. Beattie called a timeout, which allowed his squad to regroup and go on a 6-2 run to take the first game, 25-17.
Sierra Canyon committed 11 attacking errors in the first game after Prep showcased its ability to dig hard-hit attacks. Prep's Katrina Boyd had a match-high 27 digs Tuesday.
"We have a lot of big guns that like to hit it and see a clean kill," Wijay said. "When it comes back at us we forget to reload and keep playing the game. Our biggest opponent is ourselves. We make chunks of errors."
The Trailblazers regrouped and dominated the second game after jumping out to a 12-2 lead and coasting to a 25-13 win. Oni dominated the second game with four kills and four blocks. She finished with a match-high six blocks.
It was the Rebels' turn to rebound in the third game. There were six lead changes in the game, as neither team took more than a four-point edge.
Prep went up, 9-5, early, before Sierra Canyon took a four-point lead of its own, 18-14, late in the game. The Rebels went on an 11-6 run to retake the lead and force game point at 25-24. The Trailblazers' Brianna La Croix, who finished with 19 kills, answered right back with two straight kills, as Sierra Canyon took the third game, 28-26.
Kate Woolley had five kills in the third game and a match-high 27 kills for the Rebels.
Flintridge Prep cruised out to a 20-8 lead in the fourth game. Sierra Canyon managed to come within seven points, 22-15, but the cushion was enough for the Rebels, as they took the fourth game, 25-18, to force a fifth game.
Sierra Canyon got out to an early 4-0 lead in the fifth game, but Prep came back strong and cut the score to 12-9, but couldn't find a lead in the fourth game, as the Trailblazers won, 15-11.
"The third and fifth games is what I expected this match to be," Beattie said. "It was just back and forth, back and forth and both teams had opportunities to take it. It is exactly, as a coach, what you want a nonleague game to be. You're out there playing a good team and learning about your own strengths and weaknesses."