In the second set, their defense began to struggle as San Jose made constant rotations and adjusted to the Rams’ middle duo, Desiree Fiame and Danielle Menikheim.
Vae said he was satisfied with the team the entire game.
The offense continued to add pressure, and the Panthers could not respond as the Rams won the set 25-20, and went to the locker room with a 2-0 set lead.
“We have been working on both aspects of our game, the mental and physical,” Assistant Coach Edna Molina said. “When you have ten freshman, there’s no leader to look up to. We have to serve better and communicate more.”
The Rams fired up offense went cold as the Panthers opened the third set with an 8-0 lead before coach Vae called a timeout.
The struggling continued as the Panthers got off to a 23-15 lead and silenced an energetic home crowd. San Jose won the set 25-15.
At the start of the fourth set, the Rams coaching staff put their middle blockers back in the lineup after nearly missing the entire third set.
Fiame continued where she left off with her solid performance during the first half and scored four of the Rams 10 points.
The Panthers had no answer for the Rams’ spiking, and the Rams jumped to a 23-17 lead before San Jose took its final timeout.
With a comfortable lead, the game seemed over, but the Panthers weren’t done.
They came back from the time-out with aggressive hitting and scored four unanswered points, and their six point deficit was cut to two in a matter of minutes.
Vae gave his team a pep talk and the Rams rebounded with five saves and scored the final two points, sealing their first win of the season.
For Fiame, the win was a result of good teamwork and perseverance.
“It was do or die, and there was no other option for us but to win,” Fiame said. “We did a better job of executing, and did everything well this time.”
With a 1-0 conference record, Vae is confident that his freshman roster will continue to play well this season.
“This was a good experience, they needed to be put in that predicament,” Vae said. “It’is not a strong conference, and there’s still hope.”