Volleyball defeats Diamond Bar for first time since 2010

Seven losses. No more.

For the first time since 2010, varsity volleyball (10-6) defeated Diamond Bar (6-9), 3-1 on Thursday, Sept. 24 at Diamond Bar High School.

“I would definitely say confidence [was one of our strengths]. When we were playing, the crowd was not on our side, the other team was just as strong, yet we believed in our ability to win the game. We made some adjustments, shook off the pressure, and came back even stronger. All of this wouldn’t have happened if we did not have confidence in ourselves,” setter senior Ella Wang said.

Outside hitter junior Jaceylin Tan led the Mustangs offense with nine completed spikes and outside hitter senior Shirley Zhao had six spikes and three blocks. Overall, the Mustangs had a total of 20 spikes, 16 tips and 10 blocks.

“We wanted to win so bad, [it] was so nerve racking, every point was crucial, the intensity was through the roof. [Diamond Bar’s] student section was so spirited, so it hyped the game up even more,” Zhao said.

The Mustangs gained the early lead in the first set, 4-1 after successfully completing spikes and set-ups. Right side sophomore Janell Currier led the set with three spikes and two blocks. On the other hand, Diamond Bar began with three turnovers but gradually caught up in the middle of the set, closing the lead to 16-15. However, the Mustangs maintained the lead and won the set, 25-21.

“I actually felt pretty good about the first game [set] because we normally don’t start off strong [and] for some reason everyone was hustling and doing their parts, so it was great,” libero senior Danielle Baca-Diego said. “We made mistakes and gave up the bigger lead. Diamond Bar definitely had some hitters who could place the ball, and it was just a few minor issues we worked out quickly.”

Despite losing the first set, the Brahmas caught up during the second set. Allowing seven unanswered returns from the Brahmas early in the set, the Mustangs struggled to score against Diamond Bar and eventually lost the set, 13-25.

“It was just a lot of mistakes on our part. There was more power over than placement. If we placed the ball in better position rather than use power we wouldn’t have [had] outs,” defensive specialist senior Kristiana Lehotan said.

During the third set, the Mustangs gained a quick 18-9 lead. The Brahmas began scoring in the middle of the set through blocks and tips. Eventually Diamond Bar caught up by shutting down the Mustangs with strong serves and timed sets. Near the end of the set the Brahmas gradually caught up, and the Mustangs began losing points by hitting the net. On the next serve Diamond Bar found an open chance to tip and score again, catching up from an 18-9 deficit to a 21-19 score. In the closing points, the Brahmas began hitting the net, landing the ball out of bounds, which resulted in multiple turnovers. Taking advantage of the Brahmas’ turnovers, the Mustangs were able to close out the set, 25-23.

The Brahmas began the fourth set with a 1-4 lead. The Brahmas led the set until the Mustangs started to shut down the Brahmas’ server near the middle of the set, and as a result the Mustangs were able to catch up. After a block by Currier tied up the game at 20 apiece, the Mustangs were able to take control of the set and close the game up, 25-21.

“The winning point felt like we won the lottery,” Zhao said. “After I hit [the game winning point] I turned around, and I just saw my whole team with huge smiles on their face all screaming and jumping and coming together to scream some more. I’ll never forget that moment I turned around and made eye contact with Janell. She had the biggest smile on her face.”

Despite winning the game, the Mustangs aim to practice and improve on their weaknesses, such as faster paced sets.

“It is hard for us to find the right tempo to play the game sometimes. Turning on the game mentality mode right from the beginning is hard to do, so the first set is often a transition for us to get our heads completely in the game,” Wang said. “Being aggressive and competitive from the get-go would be our main weakness, in my opinion.”

Varsity and junior varsity volleyball will play Wilson at home on Tuesday, Sept.29.

By Casey Lee, Staff writer

Photo by Joshua Shen