VOLLEYBALL: Lady Balers fall in 4 to strong Spirit squad


Perhaps the only thing to take away from Monday’s close,
four-game (21-25, 23-25, 25-20, 15-25) defeat at home to Notre Dame
is a sense of urgency to win the next match.

San Benito head volleyball coach Dean Askanas set lofty goals for his team at the beginning of the year, and he intends to keep them.

Seeking section supremacy after last season’s semifinal exit, San Benito isn’t taking any silver linings this year.

No moral victories either. A loss is a loss.

“We set our goals high and we want to win,” Askanas said. “We’re not taking any silver linings.”

Perhaps the only thing to take away from Monday’s close, four-game (21-25, 23-25, 25-20, 15-25) defeat at home to Notre Dame is a sense of urgency to win the next match.

“And play harder next time,” Askanas said. “We don’t want to lose, but we don’t want to take any moral victories.”

Hosting a Spirit team that was fresh off a four-game victory against Salinas, San Benito stayed close throughout, but could only pull out a win in Game 3.

“We started from the beginning and we were in it from the get-go, which we didn’t do with the other three games,” said senior outside hitter Jessica Meade, who provided eight kills Monday night. “We need to start out good like that.”

The Lady Balers jumped out to a 3-0 lead following an Emily Tonascia block in the third game, then built an 8-3 cushion after a Notre Dame hitting error. San Benito was even rolling late when Kelsie Asp and Denisia Dikes (eight kills) sparked back-to-back kills that put the Lady Balers ahead 21-12.

The Spirits kept it interesting with an 8-2 run of their own, highlighted when Hayley Tamagni powered three straight kills to San Benito’s side, while another point from Liz Wyrsch cut the Lady Balers’ lead to just three, 23-20.

A pair of consecutive hitting errors by Notre Dame proved to be its demise in Game 3, though.

“The thing I’ve said before, it’s hard to beat a good team in three (games), and we’re a good team, too,” Askanas said. “But by the time we got to Game 3, it could have been 2-0.”

Instead, it was 0-2.

While its win in Game 3 may have been all about the strong start, San Benito’s loss in Game 2 was all about the finish. The Lady Balers sat tied with the Spirits at 23-all after Jessica Steigelman tipped a point at the net and Tonascia dropped one of her team-high nine kills into no-man’s land.

But Notre Dame’s Annie Powers provided the go-ahead point with a tip up front, while teammate Wyrsch delivered a service ace on the ensuing volley to seal the 25-23 victory.

“I think we played well, but we had a lot of mental errors,” Meade said. “I think we kept up, and when we got down we were able to come back.

“But I think we need to work harder as a team and not make so many mental errors, and just be more dominant at the net — more attack because we have the defense to back it up.”

Sam Klauer led the defense with 29 digs on Monday night, and added a pair of aces as well. Alisha Cornick had 29 assists.

Monday’s match with Notre Dame was the first-half finale for San Benito’s Tri-County Athletic League season. The Lady Balers (3-3 TCAL, 13-12) will open the second half Thursday at Alisal at 6:30 p.m., while another date with the Spirits will come at the end of the season, on Nov. 5.

“And I think we can compete with them,” Meade said.

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