SOUTHEAST GLENDALE — Having Sevana Stepanian at libero appears to be paying dividends for the Glendale High girls’ volleyball team, as the Nitros are enjoying more success this season than they have in years past.
Stepanian has also helped provide confidence and assurance that her teammates can rely on her in crucial situations.
The sophomore did her part Thursday afternoon, as Stepanian finished with 15 digs to lead host Glendale to a 16-25, 25-20, 25-20 25-23 victory against rival Crescenta Valley in a Pacific League opener for both teams.
“I’ve played libero on my club team, but it’s different playing it in high school,” said Stepanian, who served as a defensive specialist last season. “In high school, they hit the ball in more areas, so you have to be a little more focused.
“When the games are closer, it’s just more exciting to be a part of. The energy level goes up, and a win like this can only boost our confidence.”
Glendale (3-3) also received 15 assists from setter Brenna Cancilla and nine kills from middle blocker/outside hitter Kirsten Cabarong to dispatch the Falcons (1-2) in the first of two season meetings.
The teams will meet again at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 9 at Crescenta Valley.
It marked the second match in a row that the Nitros have bested the Falcons. Glendale’s latest victory impressed Crescenta Valley Coach Jen Ku Lee.
“Their defense was awesome,” said Lee, who got 11 kills from opposite hitter Micaela Guarino and 11 digs from libero Kasieh Cases. “[Stepanian] came out of nowhere and picked everything up.
“We got a lot of balls up, but couldn’t get them down. I think a lot of the teams in our league are getting closer to one another. It wouldn’t surprise me if Glendale made the playoffs.”
Setter Gabrielle Magpantay contributed 13 assists for the Nitros, who got five kills apiece from middle blockers Grace Tappin and Alyssa Ridad and opposite hitter Serena Snaer.
Glendale Coach Jennifer Vo said the Nitros have gained confidence, having played in several close nonleague matches.
“It’s like we’ve been on a roller coaster ride,” Vo said. “Our nonleague matches were a time to figure out where to play everybody.
“With Sevana, she can go out there and hit, pass and set extremely well.”
Crescenta Valley made it difficult for Glendale throughout most of the match.
In the fourth game, Glendale built a 10-6 lead before Crescenta Valley knotted it at 14 on a block by opposite hitter Cassidy Iannello. Crescenta Valley took a 17-16 lead on a kill by Iannello, but Glendale took the lead for good at 19-17 on a kill by Cabarong, who later notched another to give Glendale a 23-20 advantage.
In the third game, Glendale took an 18-14 lead on a kill by middle blocker Andrea Popescu. Crescenta Valley closed to within two, 20-18, on a kill by outside hitter Allison Reik. Glendale closed out the game on a 5-2 run to take a 2-1 lead.
The Nitros used an 8-0 run to take a 24-14 advantage in the third game on an ace by Cabarong. Crescenta Valley staved off six game points in a row to cut the deficit to 24-20 before a kill from Snaer ended the game and the match.
The Falcons led throughout the first game, taking a 16-9 advantage. Libero Nannette Grigorian had three aces in a row early to make it 4-1.