Glendale Adventist Volleyball Ousted in Quarterfinals by Upland Christian
By: Nathan Cambridge Special to the Glendale News-Press, LOS ANGELES TIMES
GLENDALE, CA (November 14, 2015) — As reward for winning its first-ever Independence League title, the Glendale Adventist Academy girls’ volleyball team was given a bye in the first round of the playoffs, which the Cougars, ranked No. 10 in the final CIF-Southern Section Division V-AA poll, followed up with a win in second round over Trinity Classical Academy, the No. 6 ranked squad. To keep the postseason run alive, the Cougars would need to out duel the division’s second seed, Upland Christian Academy, in the quarterfinals.
On Saturday night, host Glendale Adventist put up a fight but could not find enough ammunition against the visiting Eagles, falling in four games, 25-8, 16-25, 25-14, 25-11 and bringing a close to the Independence League champions’ season.
“This one was hard. They really took us off our game,” GAA Coach Gared Luquet said. “They were very consistent with their defense and with their attack, which was really spread out. I just give them all the credit. They did an amazing job. They caught us off-guard and we were just playing catch-up.”
After dropping the opening game by a significant margin, Glendale Adventist (17-3) ratcheted up the intensity in game two against the Eagles (22-7). The Cougars rattled off the first five points of the second game, starting with an ace by Kristine Nicolas and ending with a kill by middle blocker Marefat Mahta. The Cougars never trailed in the game, with the lead peaking at nine after an ace by Natalie Gregg, on the heels of consecutive kills by Paige Singleton and Melody Coronel, gave the hosts their first game-point.
“As soon as [the Cougars] came back out on to the court for [for game two] they were immediately involved in the game,” UCA Coach Micah Langston said. “They were focused, giving each other high-fives before the game started and they came out and kicked our butts in game two. So, that is a team that is mature and has a lot of heart.”
Whatever mojo the Cougars had found in the second game eroded in the third and fourth games, which were both kept under the control of Upland Christian.
“This team has a lot of returns; we went to the finals last year,” Langston said. “We have 90% of our team back and I told them it is a great environment, emotional and we’ve got to play with composure. That was when they got their heads back into it.”
In game three, the Eagles never trailed and gained a double-digit lead for the first time at 13-3 after back-to-back kills by Eagles senior Rachel Holmes, who would end up recording a match-high 13 kills to share that honor with Singleton. Glendale Adventist mounted a late rally, closing to within seven at 21-14 following an ace by Nicolas, but the Eagles scored the final four points to win the game.
Game four went much like game three, with the Eagles staying in control throughout after stoking an early lead. The Cougars cut the advantage down to five midway after two straight kills by Singleton from the outside, but would never get any closer. Upland Christian’s Jordyn Pugh finished the match with an outside kill.
“It was an intense environment,” Langston said. “[I have] so much respect for Glendale Adventist.”
Coronel had five kills and Mahta, in her last match as a Cougar, had four kills.
“Winning a game was big for us,” Luquet said. “We showed that is why we are here. We can really compete. [The Eagles] just happened to be the better team today.”
Upland Christian had four players tally at least six kills, led by Holmes, who also had a match-high six aces off a variety of jump serves. Brooke Madkin had eight kills. The senior also had five aces, four of which came in a row to finish out game one. Pugh and Makenna Lundquist each had six kills in the quarterfinal win.
“I feel that we didn’t know what we were playing for,” Luquet, who had six sophomores this season, said. “I feel that this will help us next year to kind of get that taste for the deeper rounds.”
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