Bulldogs gain experience in Las Vegas volleyball tournament

By Joe Naiman

Ramona High School’s boys volleyball team spent April 2 and 3 at the Las Vegas Easter Invitational tournament, which produced a 4-6 record for the Bulldogs.

“We did OK,” said Coach Jeff Klauda. “Overall it was a pretty good tournament, and it definitely gave us some things to work on.”

Although the Bulldogs fell to 11-11 overall for the season, including a 1-1 record in Palomar League matches, the primary goal for Klauda was to obtain experience for his players.

“We played a lot of games,” Klauda said.

Five of Ramona’s 10 matches were decided in a third game, although the Bulldogs won only one of those three-game contests.

“We just kind of fall apart at the end of those deciding games,” Klauda said.

Excluding their pool play loss to start the tournament, the five opponents who defeated Ramona ended the tournament with a combined season record of 81-32.

“We definitely played some very good competition,” Klauda said. “Overall the boys did play pretty well considering how good the field is there.”

The tournament included 48 teams. Ramona’s first pool play match was a three-game loss to Nevada Union High School of Grass Valley. The Bulldogs won the first game by a 25-20 score.

“We played very well the first game, hardly made any mistakes,” Klauda said.

Ramona had 13 kills against the Miners in that first game while making only one hitting error.

“That’s a huge reason why we won,” Klauda said.

Nevada Union came back to win the next two games by 25-20 and 15-9 margins In each of those games Ramona had five kills and four hitting errors.

“We also missed a handful of serves in those games,” Klauda said. “The third game we just basically gave away.”

Ramona’s next pool play opponent was Palo Verde High School of Las Vegas. The Bulldogs’ 25-16 win in game one was countered by the Panthers’ 25-14 triumph in the second game. Ramona won the match with a 15-11 victory in the deciding game.

Klauda rested some of his starters in the pool play match against Basic High School of Las Vegas, but the Bulldogs still took 25-16 and 25-18 games against the Wolves.

The pool play matches were played at Foothill High School, and Ramona finished at approximately 1 p.m. Klauda, assistant coach Connie Halfaker, and the players had lunch before traveling to Silverado High School for the afternoon matches at 4 p.m.

The first of those afternoon matches was against Clovis West High School, which eventually lost to Otay Ranch in the tournament semifinals to give the Golden Eagles a season record of 13-2. The Clovis West tournament win against Ramona began with a 25-13 first game.

“We just looked scared. We looked nervous, couldn’t control the ball,” Klauda said.

Klauda told his players to relax and to relish the opportunity to play against that level of competition.

“It was a much better second game,” he said.

Ramona lost by a 25-21 score. The Bulldogs had to defeat their next opponent to spend the second day in the bracket with the top 24 teams, and that opponent was Eastlake High School. The two San Diego Section teams had played in the La Jolla Beach City Invitational tournament with Ramona taking 25-19 and 25-20 wins over the Titans. The Las Vegas tournament results saw Ramona on the preferred end of 25-22 and 25-15 games.

The top 24 teams engaged in pool play April 3 to send those teams to various brackets for the playoff matches. Ramona played at Canyon Springs High School and began the day with a three-game loss to Bullard High School of Fresno.

The Bulldogs took the first game by a 25-18 margin before the Knights were on the desired side of 25-19 and 15-11 games. Bullard finished ninth in the tournament and closed play with a 17-5 season record.

Crespi High School of Encino then took 25-13 and 25-15 wins over Ramona.

“They absolutely pounded us,” Klauda said.

The Bulldogs’ statistics against the Celts, who tied for fifth place in the tournament with an 18-5 record, included 13 kills and 14 hitting errors.

Ramona’s final pool play match was a three-game loss to Sylmar. The Spartans were on the desired end of the first game’s 25-22 score.

“We just were not being mentally tough,” Klauda said. “That did get better in the second game.”

Ramona won the second game by a 25-12 margin and had a 12-8 lead in the third game before losing 15-13. Sylmar returned to California with a 17-9 overall record, including a 7-0 statistic in its league matches.

The Bulldogs returned to Silverado High School for their two playoff matches. The first of those was a 25-23, 25-22 triumph over Van Nuys.

“We still did not play remarkably well,” Klauda said. “We weren’t quite playing up to our potential.”

Ramona concluded tournament play with a three-game loss to Taft High School of Woodland Hills.

“It was a good match. It was a fun match,” Klauda said. “At times we played very well.”

The first game against the Toreadors was a 25-23 Ramona victory. Ramona middle blocker Kenny Lawler was successful at shutting down his Taft counterparts, recording two solo blocks and an assisted block in the first game. Lawler had six blocks, including three solo blocks, for the match, but the remaining two games ended in Taft’s favor.

The second game was also by a 25-23 score. Ramona had a 14-13 lead in the third game but was unable to capitalize on match point and eventually lost the 16-14 contest.

“They ended up winning those long rallies at the end,” Klauda said.

Taft had a 16-11 overall season record after the Las Vegas Easter Invitational. Officially Ramona and San Marcos shared 21st place for the tournament.

Ramona’s final tournament of the year will be the Scripps Ranch Tournament on Friday and Saturday. The Bulldogs will first host Poway in Thursday’s Palomar League match.

   
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