Mourning Title Defeat!

November 26, 2009 by  

CYPRESS — Tears were abundant and the mood was somber for the Bellarmine-Jefferson High girls’ volleyball players.

The Guards had reason to be emotional after falling, 25-22, 25-23, 25-23, to Upland Christian Academy Saturday in the CIF Southern Section Division VA championship at Cypress College.

It was the program’s first CIF title contest, as Bell-Jeff hadn’t even gotten past the quarterfinals until this season.

Although the Guards might have been disappointed with the outcome against top-seeded Upland Christian, they had nothing to be ashamed of with their performance and effort.

“We battled, and we never gave up,” Bell-Jeff Coach Miguel Segura said. “We never gave in and we were able to keep the scores close. But give credit to them; they have two great middles and they are a very good team.”

As well as the Guards (19-9) played at times against the Eagles (25-3-1), Segura said his team also experienced some problems.

“We just didn’t pass well at all,” he said. “My best passer was having some problems, and I don’t know why that was happening. In a big game like this, your passing has to be good.”

Those passing woes came back to haunt Bell-Jeff in the second game.

The Guards opened the game on a 7-2 run and appeared to take control of the match. Fine play by sophomore opposite hitter Breanna Pedron, sophomore outside hitter Jocelyn Cervantes and sophomore defensive specialist Taryn Nelson, helped Bell-Jeff increase its advantage to 15-4.

But then the momentum shifted — big time.

With Eagles’ senior outside hitter Karina Urena serving, they embarked on a monumental 12-0 run to take a 16-15 lead.

The run was finally detailed by an Upland Christian hitting error.

“In that second game, our passing just fell apart,” Segura said.

The Guards didn’t give in, however. They battled back, took the lead back and jumped out to a 20-17 advantage. Bell-Jeff maintained the lead late, but the Eagles remained just a point or two off the pace.

Bell-Jeff held off the Eagles and was two points away from winning the second game, 23-22. But a kill by senior middle blocker Danielle Maxwell and an ace by senior defensive specialist Nicole McEachron have Upland Christian a 24-23 advantage.

The Eagles closed out the game on a Bell-Jeff hitting error.

In the first game, the Guards held an 11-10 lead. But the Eagles came storming back. They maintained the advantage for the rest of the game, as Bell-Jeff made a push, 24-22. Upland Christian won the game on a kill by junior middle blocker Hannah Wagner.

Maxwell and Wagner gave Bell-Jeff fits all match. Maxwell ended with a match-high 13 kills and Wagner had six blocks and eight kills.

The Guards were paced by Cervantes, who tallied seven kills and six digs. Nelson added six kills and Pedron had nine digs.

The third game saw Bell-Jeff lead for most of the early going. Its biggest advantage was four, 15-11. But once again, the Eagles were able to erase the advantage to lead, 16-15. Although the Guards never trailed by more than three points the rest of the way, they just weren’t able to forge back in front.

With the Guards’ season coming to an end Saturday, the team will lose five seniors to graduation. However, Bell-Jeff looks to be in good shape for next year, as the squad will feature six returners.

The team can also look back on a successful season that saw Bell-Jeff capture its fourth straight Santa Cruz League championship.

“This loss is something that’s going to stick with us until next year,” Pedron said. “This is going to make us work a lot harder, and I think that’s only going to make us better.”

Despite being the runner-up in its division, Bell-Jeff did not receive an invitation to take part in state competition, which began Tuesday.

Jeff Tully

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