By William Hernandez
Backed by a home crowd of over 200, the East Los Angeles College women’s volleyball team lost a tough preseason game 3-2, to NCAA Division III Cal Lutheran University’s junior varsity team in five sets last Wednesday, Sept. 11.
In pregame warmups the Huskies looked extremely motivated and enthusiastic about playing in front of their home crowd for the first time this season. “Last night we had around 174 people on our (ELAC) side, and 45 guests on their side.
A Lot of our success this season will be dictated by the support we get from the crowds, ” second year Head Coach Elliott Walker said.
The Huskies got off to a weary start coming up short on kill opportunities and unable to get their strikes over the net. They fell to a five point deficit early on in the game 10 – 5.
After getting off to a slow start, the Huskies rallied back scoring six straight points to take a one point lead 12-11.
A big contributor in the first period was second year player outside hitter Jessica Castillo who scored two points in the first game including a strike.
ELAC was running away with the first set, but Cal Lutheran fought their way back in the highly competitive first period, which the Huskies won 26-24.
One of the biggest improvements for the Huskies this season is their team chemistry, communicating well and cohesively. “There isn’t one spot-on leader, instead the girls lead together,” Walker said.
In the second period, ELAC picked up from where they had left off, jumping to a quick two point lead, 4-2, after a savvy tip by Monique Mendibles that found a seam.
However, Cal Lutheran followed with all the right bounces, finding the open seams winning with the second game , 25-18.
The Huskies played with the same fire in the third period as they had in the first.
Cal Lutheran got off to an early three point lead going up 6-3, but ELAC’s outside hitter Stephanie Landry, hit a hard strike that set the tone for the Huskies in the set.
The Huskies rallied back in the third period at 15-all. From there the Huskies did not look back running away with the momentum and capping it off with a kill by outside hitter Stephanie Ortiz, for the win, 25-18.
In the fourth period, with Cal Lutheran leading by two points, 11-9, ELAC lost a grip of focus and Cal Lutheran ran away with the set winning 25-14.
“I think in that period, we played on the east side of the gym and it’s darker than the west side and therefore is the reason for the gloominess, and it alternates the way the ball looks too, and the girls even noticed it,” Walker said.
In the fifth game the Huskies got off to a slow star. Down, 9-3, ELAC began to rally back, but lost the sgamr and match, 15-12.
After the match, most of the players were optimistic about the results, saying that the challenge of facing Cal Lutheran and going the distance against them is a “boost of confidence.”