LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — One of the areas that the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy volleyball program has been successful at over the last decade is the ability to close out close games.
It's played a large role in helping the Tologs finishing at or near the top of the Mission League and led to lengthy playoff runs. Things are a bit different now, as the Tologs have struggled in that department.
It showed during Thursday's night league home match against Sherman Oaks Notre Dame.
"Sometimes it's been real difficult for us to close out games," Flintridge Sacred Heart Coach Anne Arlie said after the Tologs suffered a 26-24, 25-17, 25-21 defeat and fell to 1-3 in league. "That's our No. 1 problem."
That problem arose during the first game. Flintridge Sacred Heart held a 24-20 lead, but Notre Dame (23-2, 5-0 in league) recorded the next six points to grab the first game and hold the Tologs at bay throughout the remainder of the match.
"That was the pivotal point [of the match]," said Arlie, who received 20 assists from Alessandra Orlandini and seven digs and five kills from Claire Mudie. "We couldn't put the ball away and we couldn't pass.
"If we go up, 1-0, who knows what happens? Winning that first game would have been a confidence builder."
Notre Dame Coach Kristin Gorman said the Knights have excelled at turning back foes late in games.
"Our team is normally good in pressure situations," Gorman said. "That was big [winning the first game], and they are confident in their skills.
"We've never beaten Sacred Heart in the last four years. It's nice to return the favor because they have always played us good."
Notre Dame led throughout the entire second game, racing to a 7-2 lead on a kill by Zana Muno. A serving error by the Tologs gave the Knights a 21-11 lead. The Tologs used a 5-0 run to close to within 21-16, but two kills by Emily Moss and one by Erika Peyton gave Notre Dame a commanding 2-0 lead.
The Tologs played better in the third game, building a 14-12 advantage on a second ace in a row by Orlandini. However, they couldn't control the effort turned in by Peyton, who had five kills.
The Tologs received eight digs from Colleen Degnan and five kills apiece from Jessica Martin and Katherine Rubschlager.
Flintridge Sacred Heart will next meet rival La Cañada, ranked No. 5 in the latest CIF Southern Section Division II-AA poll, in a nonleague road match at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Flintridge Sacred Heart and Notre Dame will face each other again at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 21 at Notre Dame.