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Artesia girls volleyball struggles in season opener against Bell Gardens

By Loren Kopff

After witnessing his team get swept by Bell Gardens this past Tuesday in the season opener, Artesia girls volleyball head coach Micah Burpo knows his team won’t survive with only two hitters. He also knows that he needs to have much better setting in order to have his team snap a losing streak that has now reached 21 straight matches.
In the Lancers 25-12, 25-11, 25-23 victory, the pattern was the same in the first two sets as the Pioneers trailed big early on, then rallied in the middle of the set before running out of steam.
“There were girls literally on the court that had never played the game before,” Burpo said. “It was their first game ever; their first set ever. Because of that, we fall to that. Hopefully before we get into league, we can gain a lot of experience. We have to do a lot of training and a lot of repetition. Our passing was not very good and in addition, we need to do better with our setting.”
Two players that definitely had the experience were senior outside hitter Faith Devera and junior middle blocker Daisy Briseno. Both of them combined to have 24 of the 25 kills Artesia would collect. In fact, Devera had 50 attempts and Briseno another 44 attempts. The rest of the team combined for 21 attempts. Devera also had 32 digs.
Artesia trailed 8-1 in the first set and got as close as 14-9 before the Lancers reeled off six straight points. Devera had four kills and Briseno three more in the set. The Pioneers were down 6-0, 9-3 and 14-4 in the second set before getting kills from Briseno and Devera, an ace from Briseno and a net violation called on Bell Gardens to make it a 14-8 score. After both teams traded points, Bell Gardens posted nine straight points including five aces from Aaliah Herrera.
Artesia trailed 15-6 in the third set but this time fought back and took its first and only lead of the match at 22-21 on an ace from senior setter Elizabeth Pulido. She would serve three straight aces, five in the set and six of the 10 the Pioneers would put down in the match.
“I thought the girls who had more experience were able to do more, which is what we’re going to have to do because we have such an inexperienced team,” Burpo said. “We have to extremely rely on Daisy and Faith. Second, we have to rely on [senior setter] Jeshanah [Siangio], who didn’t have a great game. The third set was way better.”
Siangio was replaced in the third set by sophomore setter Leaisa Lafo as Burpo suited up only eight players. Bell Gardens had 37 kills, 10 from Kayla Dickerson and seven from Frances Conant, and served 24 aces.
“Jeshanah should be able to put the ball in play with a pretty good attack,” Burpo said. “But I think it’s primarily because the setters can’t put the ball outside. We didn’t have one good outside set.”
The Pioneers hosted Firebaugh on Aug. 30 and will be home to Rosary on Wednesday