"I don't even know how to explain it," said senior defensive specialist Tina Orlandini of Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy's varsity volleyball team, after her team's 3-0 loss to Harvard-Westlake last Thursday.
The Wolverines, who are currently tied for first with Sacred Heart in the Mission League standings with 7-1 records, played host to the Tologs, but the visitor's stay was cut short with a three-game upset, 25-19, 25-11 and 25-13.
Disappointment and frustration marked the faces of the Sacred Heart players, who had previously defeated Harvard-Westlake, their toughest competitor, 3-1when they last met on Oct. 10.
With the regular season quickly coming to an end, it was a significant loss for Sacred Heart, whose defense did not appear to have its usual cohesiveness, a token ingredient necessary to beat a team like Harvard-Westlake.
"It's always tough to go [to Harvard-Westlake]," said Coach Shelli Orlandini. "It was their night," Orlandini said, "and we couldn't get anything going." Junior Samantha Orlandini led Sacred Heart with 20 assists for the night, while teammate Julie Herrera had 12 kills.
Harvard-Westlake's Brittany Julian led her team with 16 kills, many of which left Sacred Heart "caught looking," as one would say in baseball. The scores were close at the beginning of each game, but Harvard-Westlake had something that night, be it power, confidence or finesse that Sacred Heart was unable to muster up this time.
"At the beginning we came out strong," said Orlandini, whose team was up 15-10 before Cathryn Quinn of Harvard-Westlake took control of the situation and served 12 straight points, a deficit from which Sacred Heart could not recover. "They got in our heads and there was nothing we could do about it," Orlandini admitted.
The pressure associated with this tough rivalry in combination with an intensely vocal Harvard-Westlake crowd may have served as possible catalysts for Sacred Heart's losses that night.
Communication and preparedness appeared to be lacking as Herrera tripped over Adriana Hoang in the third and last game, in a desperate effort to keep Harvard-Westlake's ball in play, pushing the Wolverines closer to victory with a score of 24-13.
Hoang's final attempt to keep her team in the game was unsuccessful and Coach Jess Quiroz and the Wolverines won the last of three, 25-13.
Sacred Heart hosted Louisville on Tuesday for its Senior Night game, no results were available at press time, and will travel to Chaminade tonight (Thursday) for its final league game at 6:30 p.m.