A sluggish start by the Pierce College men’s volleyball team ultimately dug them into a hole too deep to climb out of on Friday March 14, in a 3-0 loss to Long Beach City College.
The Brahmas were dominated throughout most of the match, losing the first set 25-15, 25-19 and 27-25.
Pierce head coach Lance Walker identified the slow start as a factor in the team’s loss.
“We’re still learning how to play together as a team, but as the game went on, we started to find our flow,” Walker said.
The second set was closely contested, with two Brahma freshmen making great plays to keep the score close. Outside hitter Daniel Jacobs made a great diving dig that led to a Pierce kill that tied the game at 5-5.
Later in the set, middle blocker Bryan Sotelo converted a clever kill to bring Pierce within 2 points when he softly attacked, arching the ball over two blockers who were expecting a spike. After that point made it 11-13, Long Beach took over and won the set 25-19.
Although they lost the second set, the Brahmas carried the momentum they built into the third, which was an electric back and forth affair that had fans from both sides cheering and yelling throughout the set.
The two teams traded points until the score was 9-8 in favor of Long Beach, when an intense volley ended on a controversial net violation call on Pierce. After a heated discussion with officials and players, the referee overturned the call to a replay, which led to Pierce tying the game.
The intensity picked up after that tightly contested point, and carried on through the end of the set with Pierce fans roaring after every play.
Long Beach head coach Jonathan Charette was prepared for the tough environment.
“It’s easy to bring in good, positive energy as a team because Ken Stanley Court is an electrifying gym to play in.” Charette said.
With the score tied at 17, freshman middle blocker Manny Sanchez converted one of Pierce’s four aces when his serve forcefully hit the net and gently rolled off to the other side, giving Pierce their first lead of the match.
From there, the teams traded points until the score was tied at 25. Long Beach took the next two points to win the third set 27-25.
The star of the match for Long Beach was outside hitter Relyea Speller, who was constantly giving the Brahmas fits with his powerful serves and spikes. He finished the night with 13 kills and three block assists.
Brahma Brent Johnson acknowledged Speller’s presence as troublesome for the team.
“They had a lot of jump serves that were very difficult to control,” Johnson said.
Although the game ended in a 3-0 defeat, head coach Walker feels the game was decided by a few crucial points throughout the match.
“When two great teams play each other, the margin of error is very slim. One play here, one play there. It makes all the difference,” Walker said.
The team’s next game is Wednesday, March 19 at LA TradeTech, at 6 p.m.