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Cerritos still looking for right combination after loss to Mayfair

SUBURBAN LEAGUE VOLLEYBALL

By Loren Kopff

As the first round of Suburban League action winds down, the Cerritos girls volleyball team is in danger of not having at least a share of the league title for the first time since 2008. And if last Friday’s lackluster performance against league-leading Mayfair is any indication, then the Lady Dons are in for a major uphill battle.

Following the 25-21, 25-14, 25-22 setback to the Monsoons, a very frustrated Cerritos head coach Khanh Vo could sum up this season in two words-incomplete effort. Cerritos had 28 kills and 13 aces and saw its record drop to 4-8 overall and 2-3 in the circuit at that time. It’s the worst first round record for the Lady Dons since going 2-4 at the midway point of the 2002 league season.

“Today, we laid a stinker in the second game and none of the three [experienced players] played,” Vo said. “In the first and third games, I thought two out of the three played.”

Cerritos held the lead throughout most of the first set and even led by five points three different times. The first kill of the match from senior middle blocker Bali Leffall Young put the hosts up 19-14. After that, it went downhill for Cerritos as Mayfair’s Madison Seaman had the first of four straight kills before an ace from Madison Sanchez allowed the Monsoons to tie the set for just the second time. After Vo called a timeout, another ace from Sanchez gave Mayfair its first lead. Moments later, consecutive kills from Linzee Guerrero ended the set.

It went from bad to worse in the second set as Cerritos fell behind quickly at 6-2. Vo called the first of his two allowed timeouts in the set to voice his displeasure. While his team somewhat responded, and took a 10-8 lead after three straight aces from freshman defensive specialist Nicole Medina, the Monsoons stormed back and held a 17-13 advantage before Vo called his second timeout.

Whatever he said didn’t seem to work as Seaman posted three kills down the stretch along with three straight aces from Jasmine Holiday. During Mayfair’s late run of the set, Vo could be heard counting the missed plays from his team that gave Mayfair the points.

“When a coach calls you out like that, you want to play harder,” Vo said. “At least with my previous players, when I called them out, they played harder. There’s not enough veteran leadership.”

Holiday (three aces) and Seaman (two kills) again jump started Mayfair in the third set as it led 8-3. Cerritos was able to rally and cut its deficit to 20-18 on a kill from junior outside hitter Mariah Gonzalez. Mayfair would go up by four points but an ace from sophomore setter Kaitlyn Bales gave Cerritos hope at 22-20. Then an ace from Gonzalez made it a 23-22 affair. However, the Lady Dons were called for a net violation and Seaman’s 21st kill ended the match.

“When you can’t ball control against a good team, they’re going to pound it down your throat,” Vo said. “We have hitters and when we pass, we’re okay. But when you don’t have a complete effort, you’re going to go on scoring runs on the other team. It was pretty ugly in the second game.”

Gonzalez led Cerritos with 11 kills while senior outside hitter Arnelle Duru added 10 kills and Leffall Young another five kills. To this point, Vo is still looking for more consistency from his experienced players but has liked what has been coming from his varsity rookies.

“I thought she played a better game today,” Vo said of Bales, a first-time setter this season. “When [sophomore outside hitter Madison Lee] and Kaitlyn play a better game, then they’re doing their roles and why isn’t [the rest of the team] doing their roles. At the same time, it goes back to an incomplete effort. We’re just not a very good team right now. We’re not playing together and we have to find a way to play together.”

Just two days earlier, Cerritos dropped a five-set match to Norwalk, marking the first time since Nov. 2, 1999 that the Lady Lancers had knocked off Cerritos. Despite a 25-20, 25-18, 25-7 victory over last place John Glenn this past Tuesday to conclude the first round, Vo knows it will take a miracle for Cerritos to catch Mayfair in the end.

“It’s very slim,” Vo said. “First of all, we need a lot of help from our league because they’re now 5-0. On our end, we have to win all of our matches. It’s out of our control now as far as who is going to knock [Mayfair] off.”

Cerritos visited Artesia on Oct. 11 and will travel to Bellflower a week later.

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