Vaqueros fall short against class of conference

NORTHEAST GLENDALE — The end result of Wednesday's Western State Conference Southern Division match between the Glendale Community College and L.A. Pierce women's volleyball teams doesn't accurately reflect how close the contest was.

The Brahmas swept the match, but Glendale could have easily won two games, as the Vaqueros scored 24 and 23 points in the second and third games, respectively. L.A. Pierce got the victory, 25-15, 26-24, 25-23, on Glendale's home floor thanks to 23 unforced Vaqueros errors (seven service and 16 attacking).

"I tell the girls it comes down to execution," Glendale Coach Yvette Ybarra said. "Pierce doesn't run anything unique, they just run it well."

Glendale (7-9, 2-1 in conference) did get a boost from its sophomore middle blocker, Cami Martin, who returned from a stress fracture that kept her out of action for a month. She had a team-high eight kills in the match. Yessenia Ortega and Sara Kert had five and six kills, respectively, for the Vaqueros.

Brahmas Coach Nabil Mardini didn't shy away from praising Glendale's performance.

"Give them a lot of credit," said Mardini, whose team has occupied the top spot in the California Community College Women's Volleyball Coaches Assn. poll all year. "They played hard and we didn't play very smart. They did a good job."

Pierce (17-0, 2-0 in conference) won the first game handily. The Brahmas took an early 5-1 lead, before Glendale went on a four-point run to tie it at 5. Pierce brushed off Glendale's run, going on a 20-10 run to win the first game, 25-15.

Mardini said his team's serving and passing ability was the difference maker Wednesday night. Pierce had six aces in the match, including three in the first game.

"Night in and night out, we serve and pass very well," Mardini said. "We win that battle every night. that's going to bail you out when your hitting, serving, defense or blocking is off."

The second game was a back-and-forth affair that featured seven ties and seven lead changes. The Vaqueros took an early 8-2 lead and maintained the distance at 13-7 before Pierce mounted a comeback, thanks to 10 unforced Glendale errors in the game, and tied it up at 20.

The Vaqueros worked their way to game point, 24-23, after a kill from Yessenia Ortega and three Brahmas errors. Glendale committed a costly service error of its own to tie the game at 24. Pierce got two straight kills from Veronika Ban and Danette Boykin to win, 26-24.

"We made some crucial, crucial errors," Ybarra said. "You can't miss a serve on game point. That was ridiculous, we had that game."

The third game was another rollercoaster ride, featuring 11 ties and four lead changes. Both teams were tied at 11 before Glendale took a slight advantage, 15-13. The Brahmas tied it at 18 before taking a lead they never relinquished en route to a 25-23 victory to clinch the sweep.

Sakurako Fujii had a match high 12 kills for Pierce. Ban and Boykin both had 10 kills for the Brahmas. Racquel Valenzuela had a team-high 27 digs for Glendale.

Martin was encouraged by her team's performance.

"I thought we played well," she said. "I'm proud we hung right there with them. I think we definitely could have had them in the second if not for a few crucial errors at bad times. Overall, I'd say I am pretty happy with how we played. They are one of the top teams in the state."

Ybarra saw room for improvement, specifically cutting down on her team's unforced errors.

"We showed we could play with them, but [this game] also showed we aren't good at staying in control by hitting balls out on rallies and not communicating with each other on the floor," Ybarra said.

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