CHINO HILLS, CA- It's always difficult for the Regents to play in the Ayala gym. Tonight was no exception. The St. Lucy's Regents dropped their first set of league play against the Ayala Bulldogs, but held on for the four set victory 25-20, 25-15, 11-25 and 25-19.
Last year's Sierra League MVP Erin Clark got the Bulldog's off to a great start with two aces to begin set one. Cheyenne Patin got into the mix with an ace of her own and Sam Bozoian crushed one across court to push the Bulldogs ahead 7-4. The Regents came storming back with effective back court attacks from Roni LaPierre and Sydney Bast. LaPierre's hit off the block knotted the score at 10. Ayala called timeout trailing 10-12, only to see Brennen Miller answer with an ace to extend the lead to 14-10. Clark interupted the Lucy's run with a cross court kill, but Natalie Caro put down an overpass and sent the Bulldog's to the yard to regroup trailing 11-18. A refocused Ayala crew came back on court and trimmed the lead to 5. Loryn Carter careened one off of the block to end the surge, 21-15. Bast almost took out the referee and his stand trying to get away from the ricochet off of the block and Caro served up an ace to give the Regents set point 24-15. Ayala capitalized on a couple Regent errors and blocked two Regent attempts to cut into the lead again, 24-20. Juliet McClure pushed the set out to Carter on the right, who put the ball hard into the block and down for the win, 25-20 Regents.
St. Lucy's came out on fire in set two. McClure's tough serving gave the regents an early 5-0 edge. LaPierre dug a hard driven ball from Bozoian which Bast rolled into the corner to extend the lead 7-1. The Regent's scrappy, hustling play earned them a 12-3 cushion before Bozoian was able to put one down in the deep left corner. But then came the mistakes. The Regents opened the door to the Bulldogs with shanked serve receive passes and service errors. Not liking the way in which the game was trending, Coach Douglas called timeout at 13-9. LaPierre responded and crushed an overpass for the 15-9 lead. However, neither team played stellar volleyball down the stretch with both teams making repeated service errors. Sarah Bruchet continued to hustle though, digging up sure winners with one arm stabs. Franchessca D'Aquila's cross court kill got the Regents close to the finish line, 23-15; Bast's ace carried them across it. Regents took set two 25-15.
Set three belonged to the Bulldogs. The teams started out trading punches- LaPierre and Carter swinging with authority- Clark dumping one and Alexis Quezeda bouncing a serve off of Caro's foot. But right after the 4-4 turn, the Regents got off track. It started with a roof by Clark. Ashley Elias then stepped up and served two aces. Patin rolled a kill over the block and Douglas was gathering the girls around to try and figure out how they fell behind 5-12. Elias continued with her too hot to handle service run and the Bulldogs were up 15-5 when Douglas used his second timeout. Bast's back court attack finally stopped the Ayala run, but the Bulldogs had the momentum, the belief, oh, and the double digit lead. They also had luck on their side as Clark's low serve hit the tape and fell in for an ace; 19-6, Bulldogs. The Regents picked up a few points on Bulldog errors, and one on an ace by LaPierre, but this set was lost. Bozoian's shot off of the Regent block was just a formality. Ayala handed the Regents their first set loss in league play 25-11.
The Regents had not seen a set four in a while. Caro got a quick kill out of the middle and LaPierre followed with an ace to get the Regents out front. A Regent service error gave the Bulldogs the tie and the ball. Carter tooled the block to regain the lead and Bast's well executed X gave the Regents a 4-2 lead. The Bulldogs knotted the score at 4 by keeping apparently downed balls in play long enough to get the point. The Regents pulled away at this point, poking balls to the corners, winning jousts at the net and digging great attacks to build a 16-6 lead. Clark hammered an overpass to the 10 foot line to remind the Regents that Ayala would not go away quietly, and the lead was down to 7; 17-10. The Bulldogs gnawed, scratched and clawed and cut the lead to three, 20-17, before the Regents called timeout. The Regents got the side out on a lucky net call and Caro's ace made the score 22-17 Regents. Quezeda rolled the next shot over the block to keep Ayala's hope alive. Carter bounced one off of the Bulldog libero to dim that hope. Clark got another dump down and the Bulldogs had the ball trailing 19-23. LaPierre's shot into the deep corner gave the Regents the set point, and Rachael Cavanaugh finished the set and match with a quick tip of the overpass to the front corner. It wasn't pretty, but the Regents took set four 25-19 and remain undefeated in league.
The stat leaders for the evening were Juliet McClure (27 assists, 2 aces), Loryn Carter (10 kills, 1 block), Natalie Caro (3 aces, 7 digs), Roni LaPierre (13 kills, 3 aces, 10 digs), Sarah Bruchet (15 digs) and Sydney Bast (13 kills, 1 ace and 11 digs.)