CHINO HILLS- It wasn't pretty, but St. Lucy's Regents are the uncontested Sierra League Champions with tonight's four set victory over Chino Hills. St. Lucy's had a difficult time sustaining its customary high level play, but was able to do just enough to win 25-18, 27-25, 21-25, 25-22.
It's evident that St. Lucy's really wants to finish the season undefeated and are so close that they can taste it. The Regents started the game as loose as they've been all season, with the entire team clapping to the beat of the music before the first serve, which just happened to be an ace by Juliet McClure. The Huskies kept it close, trailing by only one for much of the set, and tying it up at 14 and 15. The Regents finally broke away with a service run by Roni LaPierre to put them up 19 to 15. Arden Davis' great defense and Vanessa Caustrita's smart shot making took it home for the Regents and they closed out set one 25-18.
Set two was a tightly contested battle from the start, with neither team enjoying more than a two point lead over the other. Chino Hills grabbed the first lead at 8-6, but the Regents quickly tied it up. Chino Hills pushed ahead again 13-11 and the Regents called time out to figure it out. Momentum swung to the Regents, briefly, with a beautiful slide attack by Mo Hageman and an Arden Davis service run, forcing a Chino Hills time out trailing 19-17. Vanessa Caustrita was in a groove in this set, consistently putting the ball down when the Regents most needed a point, but nonetheless, the game was tied at 21 and 22. It see-sawed back and forth: tip by Roni LaPierre to go ahead 23-22, Chino Hills answers; a tip by LaPierre again to go up 24-23, Chino Hills answers with a ball crushed down the line; a cross court kill by LaPierre to go up 25-24, the Huskies respond again. Finally, the Regents put it away with a slide attack by Mo and win the set 27-25.
The Regents appeared to let down a little in set three, falling behind by five early on, 8-3 Huskies. LaPierre had another effective service run and Caustrita continued her onslaught of spot-on hitting, and before you could say "undefeated", the Regents were leading 10-8. Sydney Bast delivered an ace serve to give the Regents a 16-12 lead just prior to a Husky timeout. Then things shifted, as they are prone to do in volleyball. The Huskies turned it on, taking advantage of Regent mistakes, including three net calls in the last seven points, to win set three 25-21.
St. Lucy's was in rare territory for them this season: a fourth set. Chino Hills got out to the early three point lead, but St. Lucy's steady play got them back even at 6-6. But those dogs had a lot of fight, and with CIF on the line, a lot to fight for, and pushed their lead out to three again. The Regents got back to even at 11, only to see the Huskies recapture their advantage, leading 15-12. Loryn Carter stepped up big with three consecutive blocks to give the Regents a 16 to 15 edge. St. Lucy's sound play got the Regents up 21-16 and within striking distance of a 9-0 league record. Chino Hills would not back down though and chipped away at the lead, cutting it to one and causing Douglas to call time out up just 23-22. Alas, the Regents pulled it together and finished the set with an ace serve by LaPierre to end set four 25-22.
The Regents are one game away from a perfect league record and at this point have dropped only two sets in league play. Tonight's stat leaders were Vanessa Caustrita with 18 kills, Roni LaPierre with 17 kills, 9 digs and one ace, Loryn Carter with 10 kills and 4 blocks, Juliet McClure with 2 aces, 9 digs and 54 assists, and Arden Davis with 27 digs and 1 ace. The last hurdle for the Regents is Charter Oak on Tuesday, October 30, at St. Lucy's. It's Senior Night, so come out and witness history being made and say goodbye to a great group of seniors.