Volleyball: Mustangs improve to 2-2 following back-to-back losses
After a rough start to the season, the Mustangs respond with two dominant wins
By Jermaine Johnson @Jerm_10
LINDSAY – The Mustangs have found their stride as they head into September. After getting swept in their first two games of the season, Tulare Western bounced back with two sweeps of their own. They defeated Strathmore and Lindsay, moving to an even 2-2 as they head into September. They were in complete control during both wins, allowing 16 points or less in each set.
On Thursday, the Mustangs traveled to Lindsay to battle the Cardinals. Both teams were coming off of their first win of the season. The Cardinals were 1-1 heading into the matchup, after a tough fought victory against Orange Cove that went five sets.
Tulare Western came out very strong in the beginning of the game, getting out to a quick 5-1 start. The Cardinals fought their way right back into it with four straight points, tying the game at 5. The two teams made things tough for each other, going point for point. Lindsay was up 11-10 before the Mustangs earned seven straight points. They used that momentum to close out the set, winning by a score of 25-14.
The two teams switched sides, and the beginning was just as competitive as the last set. Tulare Western was only up 6-4 before their offense caught fire. They went on a strong 11-4 run pushing the score to 17-8. The Cardinals offense couldn’t keep up, and the Mustangs won again by the same score, 25-14. The third set was competitive for a longer period. The teams went back and forth and the Mustangs were up 14-12. Each point was tougher than the last, as it seemed the ball went back and forth over the net several times before a point was scored. In the end, the Mustangs hitting and serving proved to be too much for Lindsay, and their defense locked down at the right time. They went on to win by the same score as the first two sets, 25-14.
Senior Gianna Benedetti deserves a lot of credit for the team’s successful showing on both offense and defense. She leads the team in aces, kills, and blocks. Senior Chastine Gist deserves credit as well, as she is always in the right place to set up her teammates with scoring opportunities. She leads the team with 62 assists.
“Our defense was really strong, it was nice to get our hits going finally and our girls were getting good swings in,” said Tulare Western head coach Laura Brinkman. Following the win, she says that she will be focusing on her team’s communication skills between the front and back row so that their libero, Ana Porchia, doesn’t have to work as hard.
Porchia has been a key factor in the team’s success. She leads the team with 57 digs on the season, with 23 of them coming in this game. She says the team worked hard in practice on their hits and swings, which paid off in the win. Since she is in her senior year, she is hoping for a strong finish in the East Yosemite League, but ultimately wants to enjoy every moment and get closer with her teammates. Their next game will be at Golden West on Sept. 4.
After falling to 1-2, the Lindsay Cardinals have over a week to fix their mistakes before their next matchup against Caruthers. Despite the sweep, the team realizes the bright spots to take away from the matchup. “We learned how to shut down a bigger hitter. I consider that a win for us even if the scoreboard doesn’t reflect it,” said head coach Angel Leon. “Our serving was down a bit, so [in practice] I’m going to focus on that along with passing and ball placement.”