By Joe Naiman
Ramona High’s volleyball team won its first two matches March 24 to reach the Bronze Division finals of the La Jolla Beach City Invitational tournament.
A March 22 loss to San Marcos and the results in the March 23-24 tournament gave the Bulldogs a season record of 6-4 entering Palomar League play.
Ramona’s first loss of the season was in a five-game match with San Marcos. The contest was played at San Elijo Middle School due to renovation work at the high school gymnasium.
“We didn’t look like a team. We looked like a bunch of individuals,” Coach Jeff Klauda said.
Ramona had 16-8 and 18-12 leads in the first game before losing by a 25-23 score.
“We came out playing well,” Klauda said. “Then we started missing serves and making hitting errors.”
The Bulldogs won the next two games by 25-19 and 25-22 margins. The Knights evened the match with a 25-19 victory in game four.
Ramona had a 14-12 lead in the fifth game but missed a serve on match point. A dropped ball, a hitting error, and a bad pass gave San Marcos the 16-14 victory in the deciding game. “That was pretty rough,” Klauda said.
Ramona made 20 hitting errors during the match and missed 14 serves.
“We didn’t do ourselves any favors,” Klauda said.
Ramona’s pool play matches March 23 were at Rancho Bernardo High School. The Bulldogs opened with a 25-20, 25-15 victory over Steele Canyon which didn’t satisfy Klauda.
“The work ethic was there, the heart was there, but there was no passion,” he said.
“It was pretty much the same as San Marcos,” Klauda said of the match with Steele Canyon. “We still made a lot of hitting errors.”
Centennial High School made the trip from Las Vegas to play in the tournament, and the match between two teams nicknamed the Bulldogs was a 25-23, 18-25, 15-12 Centennial win. Klauda said that Ramona played better in that loss than in the win earlier in the day.
“The effort was overall so much better,” he said. “The guys did come out fired up. They played much better.”
Second place in the three-team pool gave Ramona a cross-pool match against Rancho Bernardo, which finished second in the other pool at the site. The Broncos prevailed in 25-21 and 25-17 games.
“We played OK,” said Klauda. “It was better than San Marcos and it was better than the Steele Canyon game.”
The Bulldogs will have another match against Rancho Bernardo Thursday afternoon when Ramona hosts the Broncos in Palomar League competition.
The tournament loss placed Ramona into the Bronze division. which had Saturday matches at Otay Ranch High School.
“We played better, a little better, Saturday than we did overall Friday,” Klauda said. “We had a lot of slow starts.”
The start to Ramona’s first Saturday match saw Vista take a 12-4 lead, but the Bulldogs recovered for a 25-22 victory and then won the seeding match with a 28-26 triumph in the second game.
The Bulldogs will follow their league match against Rancho Bernardo with play in the April 2-3 Vegas Tournament, which will likely see Ramona face its third Las Vegas team of the season. Bonanza High School faced the Bulldogs in the Bronze Division quarterfinals, but Ramona defeated the Bengals in 25-18 and 25-16 contests.
“We weren’t making quite as many hitting errors. We were passing a little better,” Klauda said.
The win placed Ramona into the semifinals against Eastlake. Klauda’s players defeated the Titans by 25-19 and 25-20 margins. “Had a large lead in both games and kind of let them come back,” Klauda said.
St. Augustine earned the Bronze Division championship at Ramona’s expense. The Saints took a 25-21 triumph in the first game before middle blocker Kenny Lawler helped Ramona to a 25-23 win in game two.
“They did not have the guys to match up with Kenny,” Klauda said.
St. Augustine limited Lawler to five swings and two kills in the third game, which ended with the 15-10 score in the Saints’ favor.
“Unfortunately we weren’t able to get the ball to him,” Klauda said. “The strength of our team really is our middles and (opposite hitter) Travis May. We had more success Saturday because we were a little better in controlling the ball.”