SOUTHWEST GLENDALE — Trying to go undefeated for a second season in a row in the Horizon League didn't figure to be a cinch for the members of the Holy Family volleyball team.
The Gaels had little difficulty turning aside league foes last season en route to winning a league title for the first time in the program's history. They won all eight league matches, including two against Alverno.
Holy Family found itself matched against an Alverno squad eager to slow it down. The Jaguars accomplished the feat rather handily, picking up a 25-19, 25-22, 25-11 victory Tuesday afternoon at Pacific Park Community Center.
"We knew that it was going to be a little harder," said Holy Family setter/outside hitter Aurora Aguirre, who finished with three aces. "I thought we'd come out strong, but things didn't click for us.
"We have to do a little better with our communication and keep on practicing. That way we are ready for them the next time we play."
Holy Family dropped to 5-4, 1-1 in league. Alverno, ranked No. 8 in the latest CIF Southern Section Division IV-A poll, improved to 14-2, 2-0. The teams will meet again at 5 p.m. Oct. 20 at Foothill Church in Pasadena.
On Tuesday, Alverno, which won the league crown in 2009, looked refreshed and prepared to slow down Holy Family. The Jaguars turned to Jessica Hamilton, who finished with 14 kills.
"Their strategy was obvious and that was to get Jessica the ball because she's a great hitter," said Holy Family Coach Robert Bringas, who received 21 digs from Alicia Marquez and 18 digs from Ashlee Sandoval. "We needed to be better prepared in defending and covering her.
"They also ran some great plays down the middle. We just need to be able to do a better job the next time we play them so that it can lead to a different result.
"We want to take care of business on our own end up to the next time we play them. I expect both teams to improve by the time we play each other again."
In the first game, Aguirre recorded an ace to make it 9-9. However, Alverno used an 8-2 run to take an 18-11 advantage.
The middle game proved to be the best played by the Gaels. A kill by Andrea Velasquez gave the Gaels a 13-12 lead. After Alverno took a 21-19 lead, Holy Family rattled off three straight points to pull ahead, 22-21. Alverno finished the game by scoring the next four points, capped by a kill by Sienna Paciulli.
The Jaguars never trailed in the final game, taking a 13-6 lead on an ace by Hamilton.
Alverno Coach Brent Fabbri said he was sure what to expect against the Gaels.
"Honestly, I was a little scared coming in," Fabbri said. "They are a good team.
"It's a big win on the road for us."
Holy Family received 18 assists and seven digs from Alexa Sandoval.