"The battle of life is, in most cases, fought uphill; and to win it without struggle were perhaps to win it without honor. If there were no difficulties there would be no success; if there were nothing to struggle for, there would be nothing to be achieved." Samuel Smiles
Rancho Cucamonga- The fans waved American Flags, enjoyed the pageantry of the presentation of colors and a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem sung by a Rancho Cucamonga student and united in supporting our service men and women. The evening was dedicated to the Wounded Warrior project. But once the whistle blew, each team set out to implement its own war strategy. The teams battled hard, but when the smoke cleared, it was St. Lucy's that stood triumphant after a grueling five set contest: 21-25, 25-23,26-28, 28-26, 15-12.
Battle One: Rancho got out to a quick start, up 5-0 before Natalie Caro found the ground with a kill from the middle. St. Lucy's got to even and the fight went back and forth until Rancho made a mid-set run, sending the Regents to talk trailing 12-16. The Regents never did get their feet solidly underneath themselves in this set, with many serves into the net, unforced hitting errors and confused defensive assignments. The set ended appropriately, with a serve by LaPierre into the net. Rancho won this offensive 25-21.
Battle Two: The Regents hit the floor in set two with much more energy and hustle. They built a three to four point lead repeatedly, but shot themselves in the foot repeatedly, with unforced errors and net serves. St. Lucy's amassed a 12-8 lead, causing Coach Flores to retreat to a time out. A Rachel Cavanaugh ace and strong middle play by Caro kept the Regents ahead. Rancho called time out again; now down 15-20. The Cougars kept fighting and made it interesting, closing the gap to 22-23 when LaPierre hit one into the net. Rancho generously repaid the Regents by serving the next ball into the net, setting up the first set point: Regents 24, Rancho 22. Sydney Bast's attempt to end it sailed a little long, making it 24-23. The Regent's strong serve receive kept them focused and the set ended on a net violation by Rancho. St. Lucy's takes battle two 25-23.
Battle Three: The Regents started strong taking the first two points, but Rancho stormed right back and took a 4-2 lead after successive St. Lucy hitting errors. A big time block by Loryn Carter and another ace serve by Cavanaugh kept the Regents within striking distance. Rancho, however, was winning most of the long rallies and maintaining a three to four point lead. By mid-set, the Regents were back within one, following an ace serve by Bruchet to make it 16-17. Kylie Miller's back row attack pushed the Cougars up by 2. LaPierre tooled the block to cut the lead to one, and Cavanaugh's service winner tied it at 21. Back and forth the teams fought. Bruchet made an amazing set on a ball that careened off of the equipment and LaPierre put it down for the tie at 22. McClure served into the net, giving the Cougar's best server the ball and lead, 23-22. Bast's impressive serve receive and LaPierre's clutch hitting gave the Regents the ball and the lead 24-23. LaPierre, Caro and Bruchet each served for the set, but each time the Cougars pushed the Regents back. Kylie Miller finally strung two kills together to push Rancho over the top 28-26.
Battle Four: Sarah Bruchet left it all on the court in this set. More than once she pulled balls back onto the court that were practically in the bench, and the Regents were able to convert those balls into points. The Regents were up 8-4, but had to know that such a lead would not last. The Cougars battled to within one point, when LaPierre crushed one at the 10 foot line to put the Regents up 12-10. McClure stepped up and served an ace to make it 13-10. Rancho hung tough, and vaporized the lead, tying it at 13 on a big block. Loryn Carter's cross court kill restored the Lucy lead. The Cougars shifted the battle plan and started tipping and rolling the ball to tough spots. This led to ties at 16, 17,18 and 19. A cross court blast by Bast off of a nice set by McClure made it 22-20. Rancho kept fighting and tied the set at 24. LaPierre rolled a nice shot down, Regents up 26-25, but her next hit went a little wide. Miller attempted to put her team ahead, but hit it too long. Regents took advantage of the hitting error and pushed to a victory on the next ball. St. Lucy's took 4, 28-26.
So in the end, it all boiled down to the ever important Battle Five. LaPierre set the tone, smashing a shot between the block. The teams swung at each other, blow after blow, and were tied at 5. It was a tug-of-war from then on. Back row winner by Caro. Rancho worked the ball off of the Lucy block. Bast attacked from the back row. Rancho used the middle to score. LaPierre hit a winner to the deep corner. Kylie Miller with her own cross court kill and and ace to tie it at 11. Loryn Carter blistered a kill cross court. Bruchet and LaPierre paired up to ping pong a crucial ball over to extend the late lead. Rancho, strong from the middle, cut the lead to 1. Bruchet's overpass spelled sure disaster, but Rancho's overly zealous hit sailed long. Natalie Caro served for the set and match and Loryn Carter blasted a shot that was just too hot for Rancho to handle. Regents pulled it out 15-12, taking the 5th battle.
The Regents battled uphill all night. Although they struggled at times, through difficult, hard work, they found the honor in victory over a very good opponent. Both teams will surely meet in battle again, but today, the war was won by the girls on the hill.
Today's stat leaders were Roni LaPierre with 15 digs and 21 kills; Sarah Bruchet with 28 digs; Sydney Bast with 18 digs and 11 kills; Loryn Carter with 2 blocks and 15 kills; Juliet McClure with 2 blocks, 2 aces, 15 digs, 3 kills and 57 assists; Natalie Caro with 2 aces, 15 digs and 8 kills; and Rachael Cavanaugh with 2 aces, 4 digs and 9 kills.