Despite defeating Valley Christian only three days before, the JV team lost, 2-0, against them at Homecoming. The girls left their blood on the floor, with three injuries during the game.
Thirty minutes before the game started, freshmen Gabi Alvarado, Bianca Hansen and Kyra LaFitte were warming up. Alvarado tripped over LaFitte and hit her head.
“Kyra stepped back, tripped over me and then we got tangled,” Alvarado said. “I hit my head on the floor. I was told that I couldn’t play because if I hit my head during the game, I might seriously damage my skull or die.
“The refs said my brain was too valuable!”
She was escorted out by coach Kristi Mathisen. Alvarado took the concussion test as well, and was asked a series of questions to test her self-awareness by both Mathisen and her parents. Although Alvarado said she had some swelling and tenderness, there is no evidence of a concussion.
Alvarado’s absence did stress the team a bit. According to Mathisen, freshman Bianca Hansen had to play an extra position to compensate for the loss.
Another injury occurred during the game. Freshmen Lia Kaufman and Tori Van Vleck collided in a transition (where the girls scramble back into their playing positions before the serve goes over the net). Kaufman suffered a bruised face while Van Vleck acquired a bloody nose.
Still the girls fought on.
“The collision with Tori and Lia didn’t set off anything,” Hansen said. “After two minutes they were right back in. They snapped out of it fast.”
Since it was the Homecoming game, fans were a little more in the spirit than usual. Senior Julia Owaidat came storming in wearing a white tutu, leading the fans (mostly third graders from Mathisen’s class) in cheering “Let’s go, Cavs!”
Although, Kaufman said, the screaming children disrupted her serves, she had a 10-point serving run in the second set.
Hansen felt that the Homecoming spirit of the game was actually disruptive.
“We never have big crowds,” Hansen said. “Seeing all these other students, our friends, teachers and parents was a little off-putting.”
Valley Christian started weak in the beginning, dropping balls and falling 7 points behind in the first few minutes.
Towards the end of the first set, Valley had finally warmed up and claimed the lead. During this period where the Cavs fell behind, Mathisen called for a timeout to encourage the girls.
Freshman Chloé Collinwood thought that the timeout really helped.
“We were getting a little stressed,” she said. “Coach said, ‘You all need to calm down, take a deep breath and have some water.’ That really helped us get refocused.
“We did a lot of three-touch plays (passing, setting, and spiking), a few kills, aces and great serves.”
But after some amazing plays on both sides, the Cavs finally lost the first set, 27-29.
In the beginning of the second set, Valley Christian and the Cavs were balanced for the most part, with the Cavs pulling a little bit ahead. But Valley Christian ended up catching up and almost beating the Cavs, 24-14, if not for Kaufman, who then had a 10-point serving streak that brought the two teams to a tie at 24-24.
After boomeranging back, the Cavs lost 24-26 shortly after gaining the 10 points.
The loss was especially galling because three days ago, the Cavs beat Valley Christian easily, 2-0.
According to Hansen, Valley Christian did not intensify their attack.
“They played the same way they did on Tuesday,” Hansen said. “They were really scrappy. They were just trying to catch us off guard instead of playing the game.”
According to Mathisen, though, Valley Christian is JV’s toughest competition because they are unpredictable. The other two times they played at Valley Christian’s campus, the Cavs lost (1-2 on Sept. 29 and 1-2 on Sept. 25).
Van Vleck attributes those losses to their facility.
“(The gym) was terrible,” Van Vleck said. “There was no AC, so it was really hot and sweaty in there. Also, the playing floor wasn’t in top condition. They were used to that, but we weren’t.”
So why did the Cavs win on Oct. 20 but not Oct. 23?
“Communication was off last night,” Hansen said. “There were more dropped balls, balls that were hit even though they were out.”
This was JV’s last game of the season.
“This whole season was a win,” Mathisen said. “Every game is a win if (the girls) play their best. It’s okay to be upset after a game that we lost if we gave it our best.
“Tonight, everyone played their best. No regrets were left on the court tonight.”