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Valley Christian slips back in standings, suffers rare home loss to Maranatha

By Loren Kopff

In a match that was decided by nine points, an error here or there could make the difference in who comes away with a sweep and who gets swept. Valley Christian hooked up with Maranatha this past Tuesday night in a key Olympic League girls volleyball tilt and the Lady Crusaders were a few plays away from sweeping the Minutemen.
Instead, it was the other way around as V.C. was stunned at home, 25-20, 28-26, 26-24 and lost a home match to Maranatha for the first time since Oct. 3, 2000. The loss was even more devastating to the Lady Crusaders because they were hoping to avenge an earlier four-set loss to the Minutemen while at the same time stay close to front-running Whittier Christian.
“The first game was [25-20] and really that’s two plays,” said V.C. head coach Brett Rinks. “That’s a four-point swing with two errors. Games two and three were both two-point games, so that’s a one-error difference. It was a sweep either way with just a four-point difference in our errors.”
The first set was played as close as anyone could play an opening set. The set was tied 16 times and there were eight lead changes. The largest lead for V.C. was only one point, which occurred seven times. Maranatha’s biggest lead was just two, which happened five times until a kill from Julianne Tyler made it 23-20. In fact, Maranatha scored the final six points of the set.
V.C. (15-5 overall, 2-3 in league) seemed to have its first burst of momentum when it owned leads of 11-6 and 14-7 in the second set. Senior opposite hitter Morgan Haner and sophomore opposite hitter Karly Dantuma each slammed three kills as part of those first 14 points. The Lady Crusaders continued to lead until a kill from Emily Anderson tied the set at 22-22.
A kill from senior outside hitter Alyx Henry temporarily prevented Maranatha from winning the set and made it 24-24. Then V.C. was serving for the set after a kill from junior middle blocker Amanda Chamberlain. However, a kill from Lauren Holstein, a block from Kendra Logan and an ace from Taylor Chamberlain foiled that chance.
The third set was similar to the first set and had eight ties and four lead changes. Again, the Lady Crusaders, ranked ninth in the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section’s Division II-A, were unable to mount any strong surges and didn’t have a lead of greater than two, which came at 7-5. But, V.C. held Maranatha at match point five times thanks to three aces from senior libero Cayla Palmer, a kill from Amanda Chamberlain and a block from junior outside hitter Maggie Streelman.
“I think we really confused them at the net,” Rinks said. “Our kills kind of show it. We had a lot of kills for a three-set match. That was part of our new offense we’re running.”
But Logan and Holstein posted kills to end that rally and send the Lady Crusader fans home much earlier than anticipated. It was only the third three set match all season for V.C., having swept Mayfair back on Sept. 6 and losing in three to Whittier Christian on Oct. 9. In fact, since 2007 and against the current Olympic League members, V.C. has been involved in 12 league matches that have gone five sets, more than the other four league teams.
“All of these are going to be battles, whether they go three, four or five,” Rinks said. “It’s just depending on the night and both teams and all that kind of stuff. But all of the games are going to close between us, Maranatha, Village [Christian] and Whittier [Christian]. It just comes down to the team who steps up that night.”
Haner led V.C. with 14 kills and five aces while Henry added 10 kills. Amanda Chamberlain and Dantuma each chipped in with seven kills as the Lady Crusaders visited Village Christian on Oct. 18 and will cap their regular season home slate on Tuesday against last place Heritage Christian. With Whittier Christian knocking off Village Christian this past Tuesday night, the Oct. 18 match will most likely decide third and fourth place.