Bulldog spikers struggle early, finish strong
By Joe Naiman
Ramona High School’s girls volleyball team lost five of eight matches during the week of Oct. 15-20, but in many of those the Bulldogs had better showings in the final game than in the first game.
The Bulldogs lost Valley League matches Oct. 16 at Del Norte and Oct. 18 at Valley Center to give Ramona a 4-2 league record. A 3-3 showing in the Oct. 19-20 Southern California Invitational tournament gave the Bulldogs an overall season mark of 17-9.
The match at Del Norte involved two teams that entered the contest with 4-0 league records.
“We went in with pretty high expectations and hopes,” said Ramona coach Connie Halfaker.
Ramona left with a 25-7, 25-10, 25-17 loss to the Nighthawks.
“Game one we just didn’t seem to be able to put much of anything together,” Halfaker said. “They still came out finishing stronger than they started.”
During the first round of league play, Ramona swept Valley Center in three games, but in the rematch the Jaguars won a five-game contest.
“We were not playing that badly,” Halfaker said. “It was one of those times where absolutely everything goes right for the other team.”
Ramona won the first game by a 27-25 overscore. The Jaguars took game two by a 25-23 margin, which was also the score of the third game which ended in Ramona’s favor.
“Game four, all of a sudden Valley Center started putting everything together,” Halfaker said.
The Jaguars followed that 25-14 win with a 15-8 victory in the fifth game.
“We did not put the ball on the floor the way they did,” Halfaker said.
The Bulldogs played their Oct. 19 tournament matches at the San Diego Volleyball Club facility in Rancho Bernardo. Ramona was the top seed in its five-team pool and opened with a 25-17, 25-19 victory over Helix.
Highland High School of Gilbert, Ariz., was seeded third in the pool but ended up as the pool winner. The Hawks took a three-game victory at Ramona’s expense; the Bulldogs’ 25-15 triumph in game one was followed by 25-21 and 15-9 Highland wins.
“They started serve-receiving very well and were able to get the ball to their big girl,” Halfaker said. “They were a very strong team.”
Ramona then played second-seeded San Dieguito Academy and defeated the Mustangs in 32-30 and 25-19 games.
“That was a very good match,” Halfaker said. “I was really proud of the way the girls played. We made forward progress.”
Ramona closed out pool play with a 25-18, 25-20 win over Mater Dei of Chula Vista. The Bulldogs’ second-place pool finish placed them in the gold bracket for the Oct. 20 matches and sent Ramona to the Coast Volleyball Club building in Sorrento Valley for the Saturday competition.
Ramona began Oct. 20 with a 25-17, 25-22 loss to Westview in the seeding match.
The Bulldogs’ first elimination game was also their last, as Westlake took a 25-13, 25-21 victory at Ramona’s expense.
“We did not play well in the first game at all and turned it around and played a very tough game two,” Halfaker said.
The second game was tied at 20 points apiece before the Warriors dominated the final portion.
“We really were right with them in game two,” Halfaker said.
The Bulldogs travel to Mission Vista for Thursday’s match.
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