By Joe Naiman
After being relegated to the consolation bracket of the squad’s first two tournaments of 2013, Ramona High School’s girls volleyball team advanced to the gold bracket of the Oct. 18 and 19 Southern California Invitational tournament hosted by Foothills Christian High School.
“We’re really happy that we were able to finish up stronger than we had,” said Coach Connie Halfaker.
Ramona’s 3-2 record in the tournament left the Bulldogs with a season record of 16-8 following their elimination. A Valley League victory at Oceanside earlier in the week gave the Bulldogs a 2-2 league mark.
The Oct. 16 win over Oceanside involved 25-22, 25-16, and 25-10 games in Ramona’s favor.
“That went just fine. We had the opportunity to put in a new defense that we had been working on,” Halfaker said.
The Bulldogs utilized a rotation defense.
“It worked really well. It played to our strengths, so that’s really nice,” Halfaker said.
Robyn Arthur led the Bulldogs with seven blocks, Natalie Seol added six blocks, and Callie Guasti recorded five blocks.
“Our blocking was really stellar,” Halfaker said. “When you block well it causes them to not be able to run an offense like they like to.”
Guasti led the Bulldogs with seven kills. Carolyn Buggeln had five kills. Arthur led the team with three serving aces. Christina Barrameda contributed five digs to lead the team in that statistic. Sammy Shupe distributed the ball for 15 assists.
Ramona’s Oct. 18 tournament matches were played at Grossmont College. A 25-11, 25-15 victory over Helix to begin pool play included six kills by Guasti and 14 assists for Shupe.
The Bulldogs needed three games to defeat San Pasqual. Ramona won the first game by a 25-23 score, but the Golden Eagles took a 25-15 victory in the second game. Ramona’s 15-11 triumph in game three settled the match.
“We did our really nice fall behind and come back trick,” Halfaker said.
Arthur led the team with 11 kills against San Pasqual.
Saddleback Valley Christian won the pool after a 25-19, 25-23 victory at Ramona’s expense.
“We played them well. They were a very good team,” Halfaker said.
“They had a lot of height,” Halfaker said of the Warriors. “We’re a relatively small team in comparison, so we hung pretty well with them, played some really good defense.”
Halfaker noted that Ramona’s statistics in the loss indicate the competitiveness of the match. Arthur had nine kills with Seol adding seven kills. Seol and Guasti had four blocks apiece. Barrameda and Shupe each had two serving aces. Sydney Hickle led the Bulldogs with nine digs. Shupe had 11 assists.
Ramona’s two Saturday matches were at El Cajon Valley High School. The first was a seeding match against Granite Hills. The Bulldogs began the contest with a 25-22 victory.
The Eagles evened the match with a 25-15 triumph in the following set.
“Serve-receive just kind of left all of a sudden,” said Halfaker.
The deciding game was a 15-11 result with Ramona on the desirable end of the score.
“We kind of got the flow back,” Halfaker said.
Arthur led the Bulldogs with 10 kills. Hickle had 11 digs while Barrameda contributed 10 digs. Shupe provided 19 assists.
Ramona’s only elimination match in the tournament was a three-game loss to San Dieguito Academy. The Mustangs won the first game by a 25-9 score and had an 8-point lead in the second game.
“Serve-receive was great, but all of a sudden we were not taking care of third contact,” Halfaker said.
Ramona overcame the game two deficit to win by a 26-24 overscore.
“The hallmark of our team is to just keep playing ball,” said the coach.
The Mustangs took an 8-1 lead in the third game.
The two teams split the final 14 points, giving San Dieguito Academy a 15-8 triumph.
“We felt we played right with them,” Halfaker said. “Everything went the other team’s way.”
The coach still commended her players’ performance in the tournament.
“You can’t control your win, but you can control what you do on your side in response to what’s happening,” she said. “I’m very proud of them.”
The Bulldogs were swept by Del Norte in an Oct. 9 league match on the Nighthawks’ court, but Ramona will seek payback Thursday evening at home.
“We are really looking forward to having that crack at Del Norte again,” Halfaker said.