By Bilbo Baggins Punisher
Mandatory 1 was played at Rolling Hills Prep, the place of the dreaded hanging basketball nets. Starlings’ first match was against Sports Shack. The Starlings struggled a bit in the first game losing 23-25, the 4 service errors being the difference. The second game was a decisive 25-14 victory, despite 6 Starlings service errors. Starlings won the deciding game 15-11. The second match was Sunshine, and the coaches and everyone erroneously thought that the Starlings would cruise to victory, especially after an easy 25-15 Starlings victory. 5 Service errors in game two, along with passing and hitting errors cost the Starlings both game 2 and the deciding game 3. Starlings then went on to Match 3 against Legacy. Due to tiebreaking rules and the loss of Match 2, the Starlings were playing for either 1st and a visit to Division 8; or 4th and a-hopefully short-visit to Division 10. Starlings lost game 1 in a bit of a nail biter 21-25 due to passing errors, and never quite recovered and lost game 2 25-17.
Mandatory 2 in San Diego at Alliant University. This place was loud, dark and cold, but what we wouldn’t give for a place like this in Ridgecrest! Room for 8 or more volleyball courts! Match 1 was against 3rd seed Mavericks. In spite of coming down the night before and seeming to get enough rest, the Starlings appeared to sleep through the first part of game 1, in particular there was no hustle and passing errors were common. Starlings were down 13 to 6 and looking at a first game loss when Allie Sliva strung together some very tough serving—14 serves in a row with 6 aces and put the Starlings in the drivers’ seat. Kills by Becca Stoffel and Michaela Metcalf rounded out the Starlings 25-16 victory with an acceptable 3 service errors. Game 2 was a bit better, though the Starlings still appeared sluggish, Brooke Nelepovitz strung 7 serves with 2 aces and Jazmine Stenger-Smith put together 5 serves with 2 aces, and Libero Grace Tesdall played solid defense for a comfortable 25-15 Starlings’ victory again with only 3 service errors.
As the Starlings appeared to be getting into form, folks thought that the next match against 4th seed Orange County would be a bit easier. However, observing Orange County play against 2nd seed, it appeared that Orange would be a bit more difficult to handle as every play was a pass-set-hit. In game one of match 2 against Orange, Orange went out to a 9-3 lead. Then Allie Sliva again strung together a nice service run of 12 with 2 aces and zero errors to put the Starlings back into the lead. However, Orange County was not going quietly. There were some very nice rallies during this game, an incredible diving save by Libero Grace Tesdall, a no-touch kill by Brooke Nelepovitz 2 kills by Bridget Ingle which gave the Starlings a 25-21 victory. At the start of Game 2, it appeared that the loss had taken the steam out of Orange County. Jazmine Stenger-Smith lead the serving with 7 serves and 3 aces. Brooke Nelepovitz contributed 2 kills Bridget Ingle got her first touch off an Orange County hit and a kill and Michaela Metcalf contributed several touches and a kill. Starlings wan comfortably 25-9, again with an acceptable 3 service errors.
Match 3 had the Starlings playing second seed Torreys for first place. A win meant a trip back to Division 9, a loss meant 2nd place in the pool and another shot at Division 10. The Starlings were ready the first game. Tight defense by Grace Tesdall, high velocity serving by Becca Stoffel with 8 serves and 4 aces, 6 serves and 2 aces by Brooke Nelepovitz gave the Starlings a 25-15 victory with a only 2 missed serves. Game 2 was an incredible display. Solid serving by Allie Sliva, Michaela Metcalf, and Becca Stoffel tough defense and several diving plays by Grace Tesdall, an awesome rally featuring a foot pass by Brooke Nelepovitz a key kill by Jazmine Stenger-Smith to stop the Torrey’s momentum and Bridget Ingles first ever no-touch kill rounded out a tough fought Starlings 25-20 victory with only 3 service errors.
Team serving was a 88.5%, featuring 92% serving by Jazmine Stenger-Smith with an ace/miss ratio of 2.5 and an incredible 97% serving by Allie Sliva and a mind-boggling ace/miss ratio of 8.
The Starlings are headed back to Division 9!