Andy Johnson | La Habra Journal

Posted on 03 September 2013 by La Habra Journal

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Sonora outside hitter Kendall Rubeshaw places an attack against Brea Olinda in a 3-1 loss, Tuesday night at Sonora High.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

Despite winning the first set, the Sonora girls volleyball team struggled to keep up with a strong offensive attack, falling in straight sets, 3-1 against Brea Olinda at home, Tuesday night.

The Lady Raiders came flying out of the gate thanks to great back line play, taking the first set 25-21. However, Brea Olinda’s consistent firing cracked Sonora, as the Raiders dropped the ensuing three sets 21-25, 14-25, 21-25.

“After the first set we got a little flat and in the third set our serve-receive was a total letdown and the score dictated that,” said Andy Johnson, Sonora head coach. “In the fourth set, they battled and I reminded the girls that one point doesn’t define a match, they played well.”

Sophomores Emily Sonny and Nicole Fraga led the Raiders offense with 10 and nine kills, respectively. Junior setter Janiece Tolmasoff paced Sonora with 25 assists.

On the back line, Julia Thometz and Vedah Berekoff led the team in digs with 12 and 11. They were challenged throughout the match by the powerful arms of Brea Olinda’s outside hitters Abby Broadstreet and Alyssa Rifilato.

“I loved our energy, from the classroom to the pregame warmups,” Johnson said. “Our energy was up and I think getting that win got their attention a little bit.”

The dynamic hitting of Broadstreet made an impact throughout, but she was strongest in a lopsided third set, tallying seven kills as the Ladycats gained the lead.

Judging from the first set, it looked like it could be a good night for Sonora. Tolmasoff assisted nine points and Fraga came out hot with six kills in a first set win.

Meanwhile, the back line of Thometz, Berekoff and Kendall Rubeshaw kept Broadstreet at bay and a 8-1 swing early in the set proved pivotal for the Lady Raiders.

However, Johnson eluded to a problem with closing matches. With set point, and leading 24-16, Brea Olinda fired off a 5-0 rally to stir some doubt.

However, Fraga ended the set with her sixth kill and Sonora took the early lead.

From that point on, Brea Olinda rarely trailed. The Ladycats jumped to a 8-2 lead in the second set and never looked back.

The third set was even more decisive. A 8-0 run gave Brea Olinda a commanding 11-2 lead while Sonora became dependent on a frontside attack.

“We get stuck in a rotation with our second middle and sometimes it makes us a little predictable,” Johnson said. “That comes with our passing, when that ball comes to the 10-foot line and then off the net, it takes our middles away.”

Down 2-1, the Lady Raiders showed some resiliency in the final set. Despite being down to start, Sonora battled back and tied the set at 11-11.

After trading points back and forth, Broadstreet crushed a kill that landed right on the line, which gave Brea Olinda enough momentum to finish the match.

“She’s a really special player,” Johnson said. “Every time she got up there, we were up for the challenge, but she’s a good player.”

After the match, Johnson talked about the program taking a few baby steps in terms of comparing last year’s team against Brea Olinda.

“Brea got us in three last year, to take one this year and compete in two others, it could have easily went our way,” Johnson said. “I was hoping it would go to five sets, but with all sports, if you can’t get that ball to target it makes things difficult.”

The Lady Raiders will resume play in the Lakewood Tournament tomorrow. The tournament will conclude over the weekend.

“We’ve got to pick our blocker, we need to get a hand on the ball to slow it down,” Johnson said. “If we do that, the back rows play easier. We just got beat by the little things tonight, like a girl not coming off the net here or there.”

Check back for photos from this event.

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Habra Sports Journal