By Joe Naiman
Ramona High School’s varsity girls volleyball team swept its three pool play matches at the Southern California Invitational tournament.
The Bulldogs lost their first elimination match in the Oct. 21-22 tournament to give Ramona a season record of 10-14. That record includes an 0-6 mark in Palomar League competition, which reflects league losses at home Oct. 18 against Mt.
Carmel and Oct. 20 against Poway.
“We are on an upward climb with aggressiveness, confidence and skill,” said Coach Connie Halfaker.
The loss to Mount Carmel was in four games, and the Sundevils won the first game by a 25-12 score. Ramona won the second game by a 25-21 margin before Mount Carmel sealed the match with 25-20 and 25-23 triumphs.
Although the match was the first league competition of the season between the Bulldogs and Sundevils, they had played twice during the Scripps Ranch Tournament — once in the consolation bracket seeding match and once in the consolation finals. Mount Carmel won both matches and all four games during the tournament competition.
“We knew where kind of a hole was there, and we did a pretty good job kind of closing it up,” Halfaker said.
One of Ramona’s tasks was to contain a specific Mount Carmel opponent. The Bulldogs did that to the extent possible. “She was able to just get up above our blocks and kind of throw the ball around,” Halfaker said.
Ramona led the fourth game before missed serves started to haunt the Bulldogs.
“We really had a strong upper hand playing very well,” Halfaker said.
Mount Carmel eventually took a 22-20 lead. The Bulldogs tied the game at 23 points before a missed serve gave the Sundevils match point.
The match was the first for Ramona since a three-game loss Oct. 13 to Westview.
“It was nice that they were able to rebound pretty quickly,” Halfaker said.
Ramona had three blocks during the match: one apiece by Mikayla Derochie, Alexis Sharpe, and Samantha Waelchli. Sharpe led the team with two serving aces, Derochie had 22 assists, Nicole Darrough provided 26 digs, and Jenna Hickle contributed seven kills.
Poway swept the Bulldogs by 25-23, 25-16, and 25-23 scores. In the third game Ramona had a 20-15 lead before making eight consecutive hitting errors.
“That definitely let them back in,” Halfaker said.
The eight errors gave the Titans a 23-20 lead, but Ramona was able to tie the score before Poway took the final two points.
“It was nice to see they settled themselves down,” Halfaker said.
Waelchli’s eight kills led the Bulldogs in the match against Poway. Darrough and Hickle each had two aces, the Titans’ attack pattern made Hickle the team leader with 11 digs, and Derochie had 23 assists and a block.
Ramona’s program won two of the three matches against the Titans; the novice team took a two-game win over Poway while the Bulldogs’ junior varsity defeated the Titans in three games.
Ramona played its October 21 pool play matches at Grossmont High School. Grossmont was also Ramona’s first opponent and took a 25-22 victory over the Bulldogs in the first game before Ramona came back with 25-19 and 15-12 victories. The Bulldogs’ second game was a 25-20, 25-19 sweep over Valley Center. Ramona closed out pool play against Millikan High School of Long Beach and defeated the Rams in three games. Ramona’s 25-21 victory in the first game was followed by a 25-19 Millikan win before the Bulldogs were on the preferred side of the third game’s 15-13 score.
Darrough had 28 digs during pool play while Hickle provided 26 digs. Waelchli’s 20 kills and six aces led all Ramona players in both categories. Derochie, Abby Roulier, and Kelsie Whitten each recorded two blocks during pool play while Derochie produced 38 assists.
The Bulldogs played their October 22 matches at the Coast Volleyball Club in Sorrento Valley. Ramona’s first Saturday contest was a seeding match against Escondido, which won by 25-16 and 25-22 scores.
In the first game the Cougars took a 9-0 lead before the teams split the remaining 32 points, and the second game was tied at 22-22 before an Escondido rotation gave the Cougars the final three points and the match.
“A strong showing for us,” Halfaker said. “We were really happy about that but wished that we had started out very strong and didn’t have to play catch-up.”
Ramona’s elimination match was a 25-18, 25-20 loss to Louisville High School, an all-girls Catholic high school in Woodland Hills.
“We felt very good after that even though it was a loss,” Halfaker said. “They were very decent losses.”
Derochie had 32 assists during the four Saturday games and also had two blocks and 11 digs. Darrough had 15 digs, Sharpe served four aces, and Waelchli’s ten kills led the Bulldogs.