Ramona High School’s girls volleyball team reached the finals of the Southern California Invitational tournament before losing to Valley Center in the championship match.
In addition to winning eight of nine matches at the Oct. 23-24 tournament, Ramona’s week also included Valley League wins over San Marcos and Orange Glen.
Although the Southern California Invitational finals ended Ramona’s winning streak of 12 matches, the Bulldogs concluded the week with an 18-8 overall season record and a 6-3 mark in Valley League play.
“That’s not bad at all,” said Coach Connie Halfaker. “We are right where we want to be and right where we need to be for a playoff run.”
Ramona hosted San Marcos in an Oct. 20 match that saw the Bulldogs sweep the Knights with 25-11, 25-17 and 25-15 victories.
“Against San Marcos we were able to execute our serving offense,” Halfaker said. “The girls were pretty much on track first game. They came out, set the pace, pushed it.”
Ramona traveled to Orange Glen Oct. 22, taking the first game by a 25-12 margin.
“We started off kind of slow against Orange Glen,” Halfaker said.
“We were a little bit off,” Halfaker said of the first game against the Patriots. “It wasn’t as fluid as we would have liked.”
Ramona took a 25-6 victory in the second game.
“That rhythm came in,” Halfaker said. “We were able to add some reserve players in, and they did very well.”
Putting reserves and starters in different positions was more challenging as reflected by the third game’s 25-20 score in Ramona’s favor.
“We had all kinds of people play different places,” Halfaker said.
Subsequent matches reflected the players’ first-hand experience on how regulars at other positions interact with the experimenting player’s regular position. The need to address basics as well as specific skills was reinforced during pool play, where Ramona twice required the full three games to win a match.
Ramona’s Oct. 23 pool play matches were played at the gym shared by Christian High School and San Diego Christian College, as were the Bulldogs’ Oct. 24 bracket matches. Ramona began pool play with a 25-16, 26-28, 15-13 win over Bonita Vista.
“Our first game in pool play we were still not clicking completely,” Halfaker said. “We weren’t real fluid in that first match.”
Canyon Crest was the pool’s top seed, but in Ramona’s second pool play match the Bulldogs swept the Ravens by 25-22 and 25-21 scores.
“That set the tone for the rest of the tournament,” Halfaker said.
Ramona’s third pool play match was a 25-13, 25-14 win over Santana. The Bulldogs concluded pool play with a 25-22, 16-25, 15-9 win over Christian.
“All of a sudden we just were unable to handle one of their players,” Halfaker said of the second game.
Ramona made appropriate adjustments for the third game.
“We came back well,” Halfaker said.
In the Oct. 24 seeding match the Bulldogs took a 25-18, 25-20 win over Patrick Henry. Ramona began bracket play with a 25-19, 25-20 triumph over Steele Canyon. A rematch against Canyon Crest in the quarterfinals saw Ramona win by 25-17 and 25-19 margins.
“That was very nice,” Halfaker said of defeating Canyon Crest twice. “It was nice to be able to let us know that this is not a fluke.”
Ramona’s semifinal match was a 25-16, 25-17 win over Louisville High School of Woodland Hills.
“They had to deal with everything we’ve got, not just one player,” Halfaker said.
“We always have a front row. We always have offense,” Halfaker said. “It doesn’t matter what rotation we’re in. They have to deal with us.”
In the first game of the championship match, Ramona led Valley Center by a 23-19 score before the Jaguars captured a 25-23 victory.
“Ran out of gas,” Halfaker said.
Valley Center clinched the match with a 25-13 win in game two.
“Our timing got off and we started hitting the ball out,” Halfaker said. “We missed serves and just did not take the opportunity.”
Two Bulldog seniors earned berths on the all-tournament team: setter Bailey Kotas and outside hitter Jaycee Arthur.
The Bulldogs will have a rematch with Valley Center today at home in Valley League competition.
“We’ll be ready for them,” Halfaker said. “The girls are not intimidated.”
Ramona will follow the Valley Center match with the Bulldogs’ final regular-season home match Nov. 3, in which the team’s six seniors will be honored prior to the match against Westview.