Bell-Jeff Girls’ Volleyball Lets Guard Down!

November 22, 2009 by  

CYPRESS — Bell-Jeff of Burbank had no problem proving its point that a small-school program known mainly for its basketball success belonged on the big stage competing in the Southern Section Div. IV-A girls’ volleyball final.

But facing the challenge of knocking off a taller, more experienced Upland Christian Academy lineup, the Guards found it difficult to score points when it mattered most.

Despite leading in all three games, including significant advantages in the final two, Bell-Jeff couldn’t sustain momentum and suffered a 25-22, 25-23, 25-23 loss in a battle of first-time finalists Saturday at Cypress College.

“We just couldn’t hang on. It seemed like our mental game fell off at the end (of each game),” Guards coach Miguel Segura said. “But credit to the other team, they found a way to get it done.”

Bell-Jeff led 11-10 in the opening game, but top-seed Upland Christian Academy (24-1) scored seven of the next eight points to secure its biggest lead of the day, before holding off a late Guards’ rally.

But that run paled in comparison to the surge the Eagles put together in the second game to seize control.

Following an ace by Jocelyn Cervantes — who added seven kills and six digs — the Guards (19-9) built a 15-4 lead, only to watch Upland Christian Academy respond with a 12-point run.

“They seemed pretty loose before the match, considering (the environment),” said Segura, who called both his allotted timeouts during the rally, to no avail. “But you could tell it hit them a little bit in the second game. We just got out of sync and we let them get out on too many big runs.”

Bell-Jeff regained its composure to regain the lead 22-20, but the Eagles relied on 5-foot-11 senior middle blocker Danielle Maxwell, who had four of her match-high 13 kills down the stretch to secure a two-game lead.

“I think we showed we could play with them, but (those runs) got in our heads a little bit,” said Bell-Jeff sophomore Breanna Padron, who had 12 assists and nine digs. “We tried to keep the team positive, but it kind of slipped away from us.”

Bell-Jeff led 15-11 in the third, but Maxwell and 6-foot middle blocker Hannah Wagner (eight kills, six blocks) sparked another Eagles’ rally, combining for four kills to build a 24-21 advantage. Taryn Nelson (six kills) helped the Guards save two match points, including a service ace, but Wagner’s cross-court shot clinched Upland Christian Academy’s fourth postseason sweep and the title.

“It’s going to stick with us until next year and it’s going to make us fight that much harder,” Padron said. “But to make it to runner-up is really amazing. I’m really proud of our team.”

By: Erik Boal

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