It just so happens that my daughter's BFF is the amazing setter at Ayala, so this match, which I've dubbed "The Battle of the Besties" had particular significance for us. Despite a promising beginning, the contest turned out to be one-sided as the Regents swept Ayala 25-21, 25-18 and 25-20.
Ayala got out to a quick 4-2 lead in set one, but that was one of very few leads the Bulldogs would enjoy all evening. The teams chased each other back and forth to a 10 point tie before the Regents began to pull away. Roni LaPierre got things started with a solo block, which was followed by tough serving by Sydney Bast, and hustling defense by Arden Davis, Eryn Young, Bast, and LaPierre. Before Ayala could say "Bulldog" the Regents had taken a 22-16 lead. Ayala made a late-set push and closed the gap to 3, forcing a St. Lucy's time out at 24-21. St. Lucy's came out of the time out and finished set one on a tool of the Sam Bozoian block by LaPierre.
Sets 2 and 3 lacked any real verve. The Bulldogs fell behind by ten points and took a time outs trailing 6-12 and 7-17. The Ayala coach urged his girls to get out and play with heart, and the message started to get through. At one point, three Ayala players found themselves tangled in the middle of the court as they hustled to save a ball (and win the point.) They cut the lead in half, trailing just 14-19, but could get no closer. Loryn Carter tipped to side out at 20-14 and the Regents raced to the finish line, winning set two 25-18. Set three was more of the same: even start, followed by the St. Lucy's slow build to a five point lead at 8-3. Ayala called a time out to disrupt Arden Davis' service run and reduced the lead to just one, 8-7. Marissa Hageman's persistence at the net, combined with good pin play by Vanessa Caustrita, Loryn Carter and Roni LaPierre got the Regents to a 20-14 lead. Ayala made yet another late-set run and cut the lead to 3 at 20-23. St. Lucy's was never in any real trouble though and closed it out 25-20 with a cross-court kill by Maddie Gilmartin and an ace by Juliet McClure.
The stat leaders for St. Lucy's were Juliet McClure with 3 aces, 6 digs and 23 assists, Roni LaPierre with 9 kills, 10 digs and 1 block, Vanessa Caustrita with 8 kills and 2 blocks, Loryn Carter with 7 kills and 1 block and Marissa Hageman with 3 kills and 1 block. The Regents next game is Tuesday, October 2nd, at Claremont.