Women’s Volleyball Lands a Win Versus the Legacy Longhorns
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Tuesday, Sept. 13 marked the first victorious home game for women’s varsity volleyball. Battling the Legacy Longhorns, the Panthers brought out their best skills, playing a five set match and ultimately winning 3-2, despite a rocky start.
“I was very anxious at the beginning of the game,” explained junior Riley Riddels, “I was frustrated when we lost the first two sets, but I knew my team would come back. Once we picked up our energy, I wasn’t worried anymore because when our entire team plays with fire, everything starts coming together for the win.”
The game started off with the Palo Student Section rallying and singing to support our girls, and the starting lineup for both teams were introduced. Palo had the first serve, and Legacy instantly proved to be a battling team, earning the first few points almost instantly. Palo came back for a chase here and there, but unfortunately never took the lead, giving Legacy the first set.
The second set was full of both questionable and legitimate out of bounds calls for both teams. Palo still came out swinging, dominating the lead for the first seven points until Legacy caught up and it was a constant chase for another five or six points. Despite hard hits from Riddels and incredible saves from freshman Arien Fafard, Legacy took the second set. What they didn’t know was it would be their last set victory of the match.
“Legacy was a good opponent, and I think that losing the first two sets was a wake up call for my team. Legacy came out very confident in the third set, which gave us more of a reason to want to win the game,” said Riddels.
Palo truly found their groove in the third set and began to become cohesive and unified as a team. At first, Legacy was smiling and laughing, thinking they had an easy win in the bag, but around six points in they began to realize their lead was slipping. Senior Nickelle Fleming and junior Jacquelyn Fields became the dynamic duo, blocking many hard kills from Legacy’s junior outside hitter Myah Maxwell and racking up points on Palo’s side of the scoreboard. Sophomore Mia Sadler hit aces on practically every other serve. Legacy was now using most of their timeouts as Palo’s score climbed and they eventually took their first set, raising the score 1-2.
“At first, I was thinking that we needed to step up our game and start working together instead of as individuals, but as the game advanced I was thinking more about what I needed to do to in order to help my team and maintain the lead,” said Fields.
The fourth set is when the crowd got louder and the plays got more intense, as Palo fought for another set and Legacy fought for their win. Legacy’s freshman Jazmyne Walker and senior Kassidy DeSchepper proved to be players to not mess with as Walker hit one kill after another and DeSchepper led her team and set up plays.
“Palo is definitely a tough team in our conference, since Legacy is considered the underdog. This was a great start for us having an almost brand new team, with having about eight seniors that graduated last year,” explains DeSchepper.
Freshman Carli Tanner aided the team as well, throwing in her fair share of kills and saves.
“After the fourth set, I was thinking that we completely turned this match around and by this point, we didn’t make it to a fifth set to lose it,” explained Tanner.
Palo junior Aaliah Largusa was a key to Palo’s fourth set victory, with strategic kills set up by junior Makaya Truman. Every player on Palo’s court was contributing to the scoreboard at one point or another and, thanks to the power of teamwork, they took the fourth set and tied the score 2-2.
“I had a lot of confidence in my team, but I knew the game wasn’t over yet. We aren’t the type of team who can just walk on the court and win a match. We still needed to push through and stay humble if we wanted to beat Legacy,” says Largusa.
In volleyball, the fifth set is only played as a tiebreaker, since the winning team has to win by at least two points in a minimum of three sets. This sudden death match was one for the books for Palo volleyball and an incredible beginning to the season. Legacy lost their touch from the basic fundamentals, with minor missed hits, awkward dives and double touch calls. Palo took advantage of this with Fafard sliding to the rescue against most of Legacy’s attempted kills and Riddels continuing with kills that cleared the floor beneath them.
“Helping lead my team to victory by scoring a point is a great feeling because I know I am contributing to my team.” described Riddels. “Also, whenever a point is scored, the team’s energy picks up and is carried to the next point.”
Despite Palo making mistakes as well, with net violations, out-of-bounds serves and just plain failed blocks, they maintained a steady four-point lead all the way up to set point. Riddels spiked, bringing the score to match point, and a simple out of bounds serve from Legacy gave Palo the fifteenth and final point.
“I appreciate how my coaches expect a lot from our team and don’t sugar coat anything. We don’t get praised too often by anyone, and that’s okay with me because I know how we can play,” said Largusa. “It’s like Coach Clarke says, ‘It’s better to be humble then to be humbled.’ I take a lot of pride in that because I know a lot of Vegas’ teams aren’t reminded of that often enough.”
Things are looking good for the lady Panthers this season, and you can support them at their next home game on Sept. 21 versus the Centennial Bulldogs.