Friday, November 15, 2013

The Aliso Niguel Crowd Helps The Wolverines Stay Perfect at Home and Push The Regents Out of CIF

ALISO VIEGO, CA-  The joy of victory, the agony of defeat, and the power of that 7th man- a boisterous crowd.  Last night's playoff matchup between the St. Lucy Regents and the Aliso Niguel Wolverines was a classic battle where the home court advantage may have been the difference.  The Wolverines, a very young and extremely talented team, came into the match with a perfect home record on the season, and it's not hard to see why.  They boast a robust crowd which is highlighted by an active and abundant student section.  Although the Regents won 105 points in the match, as compared to the Wolverines 104 points, Aliso Niguel took the points that mattered the most.  In the end, it was the Aliso Niguel student section that rushed the floor at the end of the 5 set match to congratulate their warriors on the 29-27, 25-18, 20-25, 15-25, 15-10 win.

It took the Regents a few points to settle into the first set.  Roni LaPierre's tool of the 6' 5" block gave the Regents a 1-1 start, but the Wolverines took the next three points to get out to a lead.  Loryn Carter put a tip over the big block to cut the lead to 4-2 and both sides started playing tough defense and extended rallies.  St. Lucy's chipped away with hustling defense and was able to catch up at 6 all on a Sydney Bast tip.  But the Wolverines pack an offensive whollup with their freshman middle standout Kirsten Battle, 6'5" sophomore setter/opposite Kathryn Plummer and hard swinging junior outside hitter Lindsey Ruddins.  The teams traded points and the level of play was what would be expected in a championship match, not the second round,  The Regents grabbed their first lead at 10-9 on a Brennen Miller ace.  Juliet McClure's serving run saw St. Lucy's stretch their lead to 5, 16-11, before the Wolverines rediscovered their footing.  It was Aliso Niguel's turn to play catch up and Carter did all that she could to impede their push, crushing a shot cross court to maintain the 18-14 edge.  Plummer worked around the Regents, setting over the net on two to cut it the lead 19-16,  which she followed with a short serve for an ace, 19-17,  and a block on the outside, 19-18.  The Regents took a time out and the crowd got LOUD!  The Regents came back with focus, Rachel Cavanaugh put one down to stop the Wolverine threat and Bast put down consecutive aces to give the Regents the late lead 22-18.  Spurred on by their crowd, the Wolverines had no quit, chasing down balls that were barely dug, keeping them in play and ultimately finding the opening in the Regent defense to win a key rally 22-20.  LaPierre put the left handed tip down the line and Natalie Caro knocked one off of the block to give the Regents the first set point 24-21.  Battle dug in and got the next kill and an ace leaving the Regents with one set point remaining, 24-23.  The play planned out during the timeout did not work, and it was knotted at 24 on a Regent hitting error.  Carter put the next one down cross court to give the Regents the ball and their fourth shot at the set.  Plummer blasted one off of the block to tie it up.  Carter crushed the next one straight down the line for the Regents fifth set point opportunity.  Plummer tooled the block again to even it up, and the Wolverines got the next kill and their first set point, up 27-26.  Carter stopped them with another cross court blast and it was 27 all.  Battle put one down off a back row bic attack and Aliso had their second chance to close out the set- and they did.  Set one went to the Wolverines 29-27.

Set two was a back and forth affair at the start.  Aliso was picking up every deflection and turning broken plays into points.  The Regents were staying with them for a while, but the Wolverines started winning  the extended rallies and pulling away.  Down by 3, the Regents took time to talk it out.  Plummer was scoring point after point off of the much smaller block and Wolverines worked the lead up to five, 17-12.  Sarah Bruchet's ace to cut the lead to 17-13 prompted an immediate time out call by the Aliso coach.  The next serve went wide.  Aliso put an exclamation on their dominance of this set, giving freshman ds Jenna Bailey a nasty facial and themselves a 21-15 edge.  LaPierre took the ball back with a solo block on the bic attempt and the Regents looked like they were going to make a late push, but they got in their own way with a net violation.  Bast held the inevitable off for one point with a nice swing from the outside to find the floor, but Aliso responded with a tip over the block for the win 25-18.

With their backs against the wall, the Regents came out hard in the third set.  They jumped  out to a 3-0 lead on a LaPierre kill off the block,  a tip over the block and a McClure ace.  Bast got into the action with good vision to find the hole in the block and then the floor.  Aliso dug in and battled back to knot the score at 7, 8, 9 and 10.  Natalie Caro put together a tough service run, forcing an Aliso overpass that Cavanaugh put straight back down, and the Regents regained their three point lead 14-11.  Aliso's time out was effective, because they came back to take their first lead of the set at 16-15.  Cavanaugh used the Wolverine block to get the Regents level at 16.  The teams played even for a while, with the score tied at 17, 18 and 19.  LaPierre served a well timed ace to push ahead 20-19 and Carter consolidated the lead with a blast off of the block, 21-19 St. Lucy's.  Carter came up big at the end of the set, not with her hammer shots, but with smart tips and use of the block, which combined with a Bast tool of the block earned a 24-20 edge for the Regents.  Aliso sent a kill attempt long and the Regents took the third set 25-20.

The Regents did not carry their momentum into the next set as one might expect, but fell behind 4-2 to start.  LaPierre cut the lead to one with an ace, but gave the next one back with a serve into the net.  Carter erased the lead with a scorching cross court kill off of a Caro set for the 5-5 tie.  Carter's roof and the Regents' relentless defense pushed Lucy's ahead 8-6, even though the Wolverines were still making great digs, deflecting balls and even putting them over the net from their knees.  The Regent determination started to pay off and the luck and momentum seemed to move into their court.  For the first time in the match it was the Regents who were poking balls over on reflex and getting the kill.  Lucy's built a 13-7 lead, and Bast's ace to push it to 14-7 seemed to frazzle Aliso for a while.  The Regents watched their lead dwindle a bit when Aliso took advantage of a tough Lucy rotation.   The Regents gave up three points in a row, the last being a four touch call after LaPierre knocked a shot up with her head, Bruchet put it back into the middle of the court, and the Regents attempted to pass the ball instead of sending it over the net.  Douglas called timeout to stem the tide, Lucy's leading 15-11.  The time out was effective.  LaPierre got a kill off of the high hands of the big Aliso block to push the lead to 18-11.  Caro utilized the tip, tip, tip, for the 21-12 lead.  LaPierre's serve split the defenders and hit the ground untouched for the 22-12 edge.  Aliso's powerful offense made a three point run, but LaPierre roll shot one into the middle of the court to stop the movement, 23-15.  Carter crashed the next ball off of the block for the 24-15 lead, and Cavanaugh finished the set with her own tool of the block to give the Regents the 25-15 win.

Going into the fifth set, the Regents had the momentum, the Wolverines had the crowd.  "Are you nervous?", the crowd cried.  Apparently we were.  The Regents fell behind early on a serve into the net, a shot that barely went wide, a shot straight into the block and a shot that sailed long.  Douglas called time out trailing 4-1, and the crowd went wild!  LaPierre sent the next shot down the line and off of the block to gain control of the ball.  Another ace serve got the Regents within two and a free ball pushed to the deep middle of the court got the Regents within one, trailing 6-5, when the Wolverines took a minute to talk.  Aliso was first to 8 and took advantage, pushing ahead 11-7.  The Regents called a second time out, but it was too little too late.  The Wolverine's came back and put the next serve on the back line for an ace and the 12-7 lead.  The Regents sided out, and Miller got an ace to cut the edge to 13-9, but Plummer smartly tipped the next point over the block to get Aliso it's first match point at 14-9.  LaPierre found a seam in the block to put the ball down and keep the Regents alive, but the Wolverine's easily handled the next serve, set the outside, and finished the game, set, match and season for the Regents 15-10.

So for the second year in a row, the Regents miss their much anticipated rematch with La Salle by losing a five set battle on the road before they could get there.  The stat leaders for the evening were Juliet McClure with 56 assists and 6 digs, Loryn Carter with 21 kills and 2 blocks, Rachael Cavanaugh with 8 kills and 1 block, Sydney Bast with 9 kills, 15 digs and 3 aces, Natalie Caro with 6 kills, 5 digs and 1 block, and Roni LaPierre with a double-double, 21 kills, 16 digs, 5 aces and 1 block.

Congrats on a well played season Regents.  This blog is officially defunct!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Regents Walk Over Agoura in Route to CIF Championship

GLENDORA, CA-  The Regents' second season began tonight with the start of  CIF playoffs.  St. Lucy's, who by virtue of a lost coin toss, will have a very difficult road to travel to make it to the championship as the bracket in which they are placed is BRUTAL!  But in order to prevail in the post-season, you've got to beat em all.  So be it round 2, round 3, or the finals, bring on the best of the best, and the Regents will be ready for them.

Step one came in the form of the Agoura Chargers.  Agoura was the third place finisher in the Marmonte League, and came in with two tournament championships and an impressive record.  They also boast a strong middle presence with 6'2" middle blocker Kaylin Mouchawar and 6'1" middle blocker Meg Graham.  The match up could have been problematic for St. Lucy's, but they were prepared.  Coach Douglas came in with a game plan, the girls executed and the Regents walked away with a straight set victory 25-13, 25-20 and 25-13.

The Regents started set one a little nervous, making unforced errors like passing into the net and long serves.  But Syd Bast's serve receive was right on and the Regents were converting perfect passes into kills by Loryn Carter to stay within striking distance of the Chargers.  Lucy's closed the three point gap on another Carter kill, a Sarah Bruchet ace and a Rachel Cavanaugh block.  The Regents took their first  lead at 7-6 on a shot off of the block by Roni LaPierre.  Bast then went on a serving streak that pushed the Regent edge to five, 14-9.  The Regents ran away with it from there, finishing set one 25-13.

Set two was more of a contest.  Again, the Regents got behind with mistakes and errors and found themselves trailing two to three points behind the Chargers most of the way.  There were ties at 13, 15, and 16.  Finally, the Regents grabbed the lead and Juliet McClure cemented it with a well timed dump to put Lucy's up by two 20-18.  McClure's ace and LaPierre's inspired hitting took over in the end and the Regents closed out set two 25-20.

The Regents took control of set three from the start.  McClure scored two more aces, as did Natalie Caro, and the Regents were quickly up 10-3.  Bast went on another serving tear and quicker than you can say "round two", the Regents were leading 20-8.  The Chargers were never able to mount an effective attack and St. Lucy's put the match to rest 25-13.

Tonight's stat leaders included Juliet McClure (42 assists, 3 aces), Loryn Carter (11 kills, 2 blocks), Natalie Caro (5 kills, 5 digs, 3 aces), Rachael Cavanaugh (7 kills, 2 blocks), Roni LaPierre (15 kills, 8 digs, 1 block), Sarah Bruchet (11 digs, 1 ace), and Sydney Bast (8 kills, 6 digs, 2 aces).  Round two will be on Thursday, November 14th at 7:00 pm.  Opponent will be the winner of the Aliso Nigeuel / Estancia match and location will be determined most likely by coin flip.  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Not In Their Dog House!

Chino Hills, CA-  The Regents encountered a battle-ready Chino Hills squad earlier this evening who put an end to St. Lucy's heretofore perfect season.  Both teams had already wrapped up a CIF bid so this match was to determine whether Lucy's would be the sole Sierra League Champion (coming in with a 9-0 record) or whether they would have to share the title with Chino Hills (whose only loss was to the Regents when they played at St. Lucy's).   It only took three sets for the Huskies to answer that question.  Chino Hills won 25-21, 25-19 and 25-19.

Set one started out business as usual for the Regents.  They were out to a four point lead, up 8-4, when Chino Hills called time out.  The Huskies closed the lead to get within one point, when Megan Buzzario interfered with Juliet McClure's set to turn the ball over.  The Regents pushed the lead back up 14- 10, but could not maintain a consistent level of play.  Loryn Carter made an impressive block and straight down kill to respond to Buzzario's attack that likewise careened straight down.  Up 19-17 with the ball, things looked promising for the Regents.  Then the service error.  Then the blocked hit attempt.  Then the hit into the net.  Then the missed tip.  Then the net violation.  St. Lucy's gave up game one 25-21.

Set two started out fairly evenly.  Roni LaPierre floated an ace deep to knot the score at 3.  But then the Regents appeared to lose their focus.  Two consecutive balls dropped between players and there seemed to be general confusion about assignments.  The Regents were chasing the dogs from that point on.  Chino Hills was in total control, up by six, when St. Lucy's watched a very playable serve float in for an ace, and Coach Douglas gathered his team around trailing 17-10.  The Regents began to play stronger, trading points, but not making up enough ground.  The set ended with Buzzario tooling the block on a back row attack for set point, and then a double hit call against St. Lucy's for the set:  Chino Hills 25, St. Lucy's 19.

It was do or die time for the Regents.  The pattern that evolved was for the Regents to fall a point or two behind, catch up, make a mistake, and repeat.  The set was tied 3-3, Regent service error.  Tied 6-6, Regent service error.  Tied 8-8, Regent hitting error, followed by a blocked shot, followed by a shanked pass, followed by a Regent time out trailing 12-8.  Around mid set, the Regents made a final threat.  Carter crushed a ball off of the block to cut the lead to 5, 16-11.  LaPierre served an ace to cut the lead to 4, 16 -12.  LaPierre rolled the next one from the back court to the hole in the middle of the Huskies, 16-13.  Carter put another one off of the block, 16-14.  But then the Regents touched an overpass that was on it's way out of bounds and that was the end of the St. Lucy run.  The Regents never got any closer, eventually succumbing the the Huskies on a swing and miss of an overpass and an attack attempt sent wide.  The Huskies grabbed their share of the Sierra title with the 25-19 victory.

Tonight's Regent leaders were Roni LaPierre with 3 aces and 10 kills, Loryn Carter with 1 block and 10 kills, Sydney Bast with 9 digs and 7 kills and Juliet McClure with 27 assists.

St. Lucy's is to be congratulated on a fantastic season.  The Regents finish the regular season as Sierra League Champions for the sixth year in a row and will move on to the post season playoffs.   CIF playoffs begin next Tuesday and the pairings will be released on Saturday, November 9th at 12:30.  And don't get too discouraged over tonight's loss.  In 2010 the Regents lost in three to the Huskies at Chino Hills.  In 2011, the Regents lost in three to the Huskies at Chino Hills.  Both of those years, the Regents won CIF.  I'm just sayin...

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Regents Are Not So Strong In Day Two of The Power Classic

Redondo, CA-  Today was opposite day for the Regents.  Coming off of a day of very sharp play, the Regents had the opposite experience of yesterday and lost their two matches with error ridden and tentative play.  I will spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say that St. Lucy's lost in two in their cross over match with Oaks Christian and lost in three to South, a team that they beat handily earlier this year.  The biggest loss of the day, however, was when Sydney Bast took a pole and then a knee or foot to the head while diving after a shanked ball in the final point of the first match.  Bast was out for the remainder of the day, but stayed around to support her team in spite of her injury.

The Regents will reset for their final league match against Chino Hills.  That match will determine whether St. Lucy's will go undefeated for the season and take the Sierra League title outright, or if they will share in the title with Chino Hills, who has only lost to the Regents.  Come out and support the girls, Tuesday, November 5th at Chino Hills.

The Regents are Strong In Day One of The Redondo Power Classic

South Torrance, CA-  The Regents took first in their pool on Day 1 of the Redondo Classic.  The faced Millikan, La Canada, and Peninsula and came out victorious in all three matches, though barely escaping a tough three set match against Peninsula.

To quickly recap:  All three teams that St. Lucy's played today were quality teams.  The pace of the games and skill level was challenging, but the Regents prevailed with tough serving, strong and patient defense, outstanding setting, and really smart hitting.  The Regents took Millikan out in straight sets, 25-18 and 25-16.  The Millikan 6'6" middle presented a tall challenge for the much smaller Regents, but patience and scrappy defense won the day.  Next came La Canada.  The Regents did not perform as error free as they did int he first set, but got through in straight sets because of their tough serves and scrappy defense.  This one went 25-11 and 25-18.  The final and toughest match came against Peninsula.  The teams stayed within a point or two of each other in set one until the end, but Peninsula was effective at the finish and pulled away to a 25-22 win, handing the Regents their first loss on the day.  St. Lucy's came out and took control in set two, with Loryn Carter making several blocks and more strong serving and defense.  Peninsula never presented a threat in this set and the Regents ran away with it 25-13.  Set three was a battle.  The Regents built up a four point lead at 10-6, but the Panthers came storming back to take the lead 13-11.  The Regents took the next four points on a Peninsula serving error, a Caro tip to the corner, a Peninsula hitting error and a Peninsula net violation. Regents won set three 15-13.

St. Lucy's moves on to the Gold Division.  Play starts at 8:30 tomorrow morning at Redondo Union High School.