By Shannon Cole
The Ram’s nine-match winning streak on the volleyball court came to an end on Sept. 30 when they fell 0-3 to the defending state champion, the Cabrillo Hawks.
The Rams started off slowly in the first set, trading off service errors and kills with the Hawks. But after both teams found their groove, the Hawks took off and left the Rams in the dust. The Hawk’s multiple four- and five-point streaks allowed them to easily take the first set 25-9.
It was the first time the Rams were limited to a single-digit score in any set this year.
Offensive production for City increased in the second set, where the Rams earned nine kills but still fell 19-25.
The third set began with the Hawks on a six-point run before the Rams had even scored twice. Freshman libero Isoke Springer tried to defend the court, but the Rams still lost 17-25.
It was Cabrillo’s strong arms and tall players that caused trouble for the Ram’s defensive back row. The Hawks took advantage of Springer’s location on the Ram’s side: The second she’d get down low on one side of the court, her opponents sent the ball just out of her reach for another point.
Team captain Kijana Best knows that they need to learn from the mistake of letting a team take advantage of their weaknesses.
“I think they knew that we didn’t have the biggest blocks in the middle, so they just swung away, really,” Best said. “And they saw our holes. We tried our best to adjust to it.”
But even with the adjustment, it wasn’t enough to take down the Hawks.
“They have really big blocks and we’re used to getting a lot of kills,” Best said. “You had to go around it and try to work around their big blocks because they’re so tall. We would back up when they went to hit, because they would hit deep, and then when we backed up they would tip it or dump it right in the middle.”
Cabrillo lists five players over 6 feet tall on their roster, while the Rams have only two players over 5-foot-9. But size doesn’t matter if the offensive talent is there.
Best currently ranks second in the state in kills, but managed only six kills in the match. Freshman phenom Jennifer Quarters-Styles was also limited by Cabrillo’s enormous opposition, earning just 12 kills in the match.
Quarters-Styles still leads the state with 228 total kills, an average of 5.18 per set.
When it comes to learning from their mistakes, Quarters-Styles knows she can count on teammates like Best to pick her back up.
“When we make mistakes, we all kinda shut down a little bit. So it’s just a matter of helping each other up, encouraging each other,” Quarters-Styles said. “When my teammates are there saying ‘You know you got it,’ it helps a lot.”
As one of three returning sophomores, captain Best knows a positive environment will bring out the best in her teammates.
“We just have to encourage them and give them the confidence to know they can do it. I know that all of our hitters can do it, they’re really good hitters. But I just don’t think they’re confident when it comes down to the game, especially big teams like this,” Best said.
“But that’s the thing, you can’t be scared. And if you get blocked, you get blocked. You still tried.”
The Rams will travel to Cabrillo to play again against the top-ranked team in Northern California on Oct. 26.