Volleyball team reaches final eight in Southern California
“We feed off of it; it’s good energy,” head coach Nabil Mardini said of the screams, scouts awaiting players, and even a family from across the globe attending the women’s volleyball game Saturday night in the South Gym.
Though Pierce’s women’s volleyball team had defeated El Camino College for the past two years, Pierce needed to win each game to continue on, and did so, defeating El Camino 25-9, 25-23, 25-23.
“Always play aggressive, that’s what I like them to do,” Mardini said. “I’m never nervous. If you prepare, you should never be nervous.”
While Athletic Director Bob Lofrano was already proud of how far the team had come, he conveyed his belief that it could go further.
“We’re in the elite eight; there are only eight teams left in Southern California, “ Lofrano said. “Anybody who would have won tonight, here, or at the other three games going on—well, it wouldn’t be an upset. “
However, even with his strong confidence in the team’s ability, Lofrano did speak about the unpredicted moments that can occur in a game.
“Volleyball has those big momentum swings,” Lofrano said. “You might get five points in a row—we led that last [set] five to nothing, and then all of a sudden we were down by three.”
El Camino head coach Le Valley Pattison didn’t blame momentum for the final result of the game.
“Pierce played really well in the first [set], and we made a few too many errors,” Pattison said. “Then in the second and third games we played a little better; I just would’ve liked to see us take one of those games.”
When Pattison entered the second set, she saw a direction from which she attempted to salvage what became the team’s inevitable loss.
“Pierce had a good serve, so if we passed the ball [more often] then we could set our middles and run a little bit of an offense, and we were much more effective,” Pattison said. “But when we didn’t pass as well we were in big trouble.”
And as the El Camino College women’s volleyball team went home defeated in their final game of the season, some players on Pierce’s team are only beginning to show their full potential; others are meeting with scouts from universities.
“[Sophomore outside hitter] Kira Guarino and [sophomore middle] Jessica Burns were outstanding— not that they haven’t been all year, but this is the best that I’ve seen them play,” Lofrano said.
While Burns made 9 kills, sophomore outside hitter Danetta Boykin made 13 kills, and sophomore setter Janelle Futch had 41 assists.
It was another player– one with 17 kills, who wanted to make her parents proud; not surprising, since they traveled from Tokyo, Japan to watch their daughter play.
“This is the last game to show my parents before they leave tomorrow,” sophomore outside hitter Sakurako Fujii said. “Today I was a little bit nervous, but they support everything I do, so mentally I was fine.”
It’s this clear mentality that will be essential to the team as they inch closer in the playoffs and subsequently to more pressure.
“Win and go on; lose and turn in your uniform,” Lofrano said. “There’s a finality to it.”
The Pierce College women’s volleyball team will play its next game against Pasadena City College on Tuesday in the South Gym at 7 p.m.