ARCADIA — Under a different set of circumstances, the Glendale High girls’ volleyball team appeared an entirely different squad Tuesday afternoon.
The upstart Nitros, who pushed Arcadia to five games in the team’s first meeting Sept. 26, had a letdown in a 25-22, 25-20, 25-17 road defeat in Pacific League play.
“I really don’t know what it is, but we just weren’t ready,” Nitros co-Coach Ta’ase Mose said. “It was a mental thing. We didn’t show up today and that’s disappointing.”
Perhaps it’s fair to say the Nitros weren’t no-shows as much as late-arrivers to the action.
Glendale (7-6, 5-5 in league) was most competitive with the defending co-Pacific League champions Apaches in the first game, one in which Arcadia appeared intent in blowing out the visitors in leading, 19-9, after a kill from senior setter Kristen Mueller (seven kills and 28 assists).
From those depths, the Nitros launched an impressive and improbable rally kick-started on a spike from right side hitter Ivanna Gamboa.
Gamboa’s kill stunted an Apaches 5-0 run and, more importantly, brought Nitros senior opposite Serena Snaer to serve.
Snaer contributed three aces to an 8-0 spurt as the topspin from her serve proved difficult to dig. Eventually, a kill from Gamboa propelled the Nitros within 19-18.
Unfortunately for Glendale, its run ended on a service error, which put Arcadia ahead, 20-18.
The Nitros’ inability to forge a tie on that possession played out three additional times as Glendale pulled within a point, but never even.
Arcadia (13-2, 10-1) finally pulled away with a kill and ace from Kelly Dopke in taking a 24-21 advantage.
Two possessions later, Arcadia closed out the hard-fought victory with a dump from Mueller.
“No disrespect to Glendale, but that run was all us and all about our mistakes,” Arcadia Coach Chuck Freberg said. “They made two runs on us because of mistakes and sloppy play. If we don’t fix that, we’ll be in trouble.”
Freberg was also referencing a mini-run from the Nitros after Arcadia raced out to a 23-15 lead in the second game.
Glendale countered with a 5-0 streak, aided by three Apaches errors, to climb within 23-20.
Yet, just as the Nitros appeared poised to further pressure Arcadia, the Apaches responded with consecutive points, including a combo block from Yassmine Shindy and Dopke of Glendale’s Grace Tappin (10 kills) to clinch the victory.
“I just feel that as a team we needed more communication. We came in with a little more talk; we didn’t play the way we were supposed to play,” Gamboa said. “We could have done it, but we didn’t do it.”
As for the third game, Arcadia was in control throughout, surging ahead to a 10-3 advantage and never looking back.
Glendale’s play Tuesday was in contrast to the team’s initial encounter in Glendale, which resulted in the Apaches’ 22-25, 25-21, 25-21, 22-25, 15-13 win.
“We need to do a better job with the service-receive passing and defense,” Mose said. “We need to get back to who we were the first time we played Arcadia. We were a better team then than today.”