Lady Heralds fend of early Raider attack, remain undefeated
By Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal
The Whittier Christian girls volleyball team continued to make one thing clear in it’s 3-0 victory over Sonora at Sonora High: If you’re going to beat the Lady Heralds, it has to be done early.
The Raiders (5-4) nearly handed Whittier Christian it’s first lost set of the season, but it slipped away in the form of a four-point swing that gave the Lady Heralds a 26-24 set victory.
Whittier Christian would dominate the final two sets to win by a score of 26-24, 25-13, 25-15.
“I feel there was a bit of a letdown,” said Andy Johnson, Sonora head coach. “We gave ourselves an opportunity to win and there was a disappointment in the second set when we didn’t win the first.”
After trading the first few points, Sonora started to roll thanks to the on-court leadership of senior setter and outside hitter Katarina Marczeski.
The captain was able to set up her teammates en route to claiming an early 13-6 lead.
While Sonora started off hot, the Lady Heralds did the opposite and battled through errors as the Raiders continued to lead late into the set.
But Whittier Christian would not go down easy and once again the combination of setter Jennifer Washle and outside hitters Kylee Wolfe and Deanna Blaine came through down the stretch.
“We came out a little slow and Sonora came out hot,” said Shawn Hunter, Whittier Christian head coach. “We were lucky to come away with the win. I like that we were fighting and learning how to get out of those games.”
Sonora had game point at 24-22, but Whittier Christian killed the possibility of losing the first set by scoring four unanswered points.
Shaken by the first set letdown, Sonora couldn’t come up with a response in the second and third sets.
The Lady Heralds regained their form quickly in the second set and dominated early, building a double digit lead at 15-5 en route to a 25-13 set victory.
In the third set, the teams traded early on, but Whittier Christian again put together long runs midway through the set as Washle connected with five different teammates on attacks.
“Sonora played great defense against us,” Hunter said. “We felt we could make adjustments to put pressure on them to continue to make great digs and we found a way to run our offense a little cleaner and play great defense behind it.”
Washle finished with 35 assists in three sets. Blaine led the Lady Heralds with 12 kills, with Wolfe right behind at 11 kills.
Nicole Santos led the team with 20 digs.
For Sonora, Marczeski totaled seven assists and four kills, while Kendall Rubeshaw added four kills.
However, it was the back line that was impressive for Sonora early in the first set, as the combination of Rubeshaw, Andrea Valasco, Brooke Conlin and Julia Thometz thwarted multiple attacks by Whittier Christian.
“The best thing about Katarina is how positive she is on the court, I wish I had six other players like her, she leads by example,” Johnson said. “We played without one of our captains and had a sub step in and play great, give credit to Whittier Christian though, they had great hitters and made our job tough.”
Johnson said that win or lose, this match was a great test for Sonora and a great way to prepare for Freeway League teams like Troy and Fullerton.
“Beating a team like this takes something special,” Johnson said. “What I want to see is consinstency, our emotions were a little to high and then they dipped low and what I want for us is to be consistent. We went toe-to-toe with them in Game 1 and they’re ranked at the top of our division, so what does that say about where we’re going? I feel our program is taking the proper steps.”
For both schools, it was a match against a division opponent within a small area, a trait that benefited Whittier Christian given it’s travel for league matches.
“This gives us a glimpse of the kind of competition that we are going to see during the season,” Hunter said. “Plus it’s close, the girls know each other so it ends up being great competition.”