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John Glenn makes change, storms back to knock off Artesia


 By Loren Kopff

Through the first month of the 2013 season, it had been very frustrating for Micah Burpo and David Cruz, the head coaches of the Artesia and John Glenn girls volleyball teams respectively. But when they faced each other in Suburban League action last Thursday, someone came away even more frustrated.

That happened to Burpo as he witnessed a potential victory slip away late as the host Lady Eagles rallied for a 23-25, 22-25, 25-14, 25-23, 15-6 victory. It was only the second win of the season to that point for Glenn and it came without its top hitter. During warm-ups, junior outside hitter Leslie Larranaga rolled her left ankle and had to be helped off the court. She spent the entire match on the sidelines nursing her ankle and her playing status for the upcoming weeks was uncertain at the time.

With Larranaga out of the lineup, Artesia took advantage of Glenn’s sloppy play early on as the Lady Eagles had nine kills in the first set and eight more in the second set to account for 17 of the 45 points scored. At the same time, the Lady Eagles served into the net or served long nine times.

Artesia was also getting points from its serving as five different players combined for 14 aces in the first two sets and senior middle blocker Daisy Briseno pounded down 11 of her team’s 20 kills including a power kill straight in the middle of Glenn’s defense to end the second set.

“There was a lot of confusion just because they were out of position,” Cruz said. “Watching our number one hitter sitting on the bench with that sprained ankle, my daughter, Nicole, playing middle for the first time, [junior middle blocker] Zahory [Ramirez] playing outside…we had a bunch of confusion. They weren’t sure of the lineup. They weren’t sure how to rotate.”

“All of it was pretty sloppy,” Burpo said of his team’s performance. “Serve receive passing was very sloppy. The setting was extremely sloppy. There were a lot of double [hits].”

It was at that time Cruz made a few changes and the hosts began to build momentum. Cruz moved junior libero Kashmir Davies to outside middle back and Ramirez back to middle blocker. The move paid off as Glenn raced to a 10-2 lead in the third set  The lead grew to 16-7 after a Ramirez kill and 24-10 following a block from senior middle blocker Myra Gomez.

“I think that settled down the team,” Cruz said. “Putting people in their original positions and just having one person out of position really settled us down. It allowed us to focus on what we can do best.”

Glenn was on its way to put the fourth set away early with a 10-5 lead but a kill from junior outside hitter Martina Kim gave Briseno the serve where she promptly posted three straight aces. Eventually, Artesia built a 21-13 lead on the strength of a block from Briseno and three straight kills from the power hitter.

However, the Pioneers had a mental lapse and Glenn forged back in a big way. Gomez had a kill and two straight aces to make it 21-17. Later on, Davies had an ace, followed by a delay of game point against Burpo, a block from Ramirez off of Briseno and another kill from Ramirez.

“I gave them an instruction and it was very simple,” Burpo said. “At that point in the match, Glenn was weak at right back defensively and I gave them very clear instructions on how to get the side out and they couldn’t do it. All we had to do was put the ball to deep right back and the match was over and we couldn’t do that.”

Artesia was never the same in the fifth set as consecutive kills from Davies put Glenn up 4-1. Then with the Lady Eagles clinging to a 7-5 lead, Artesia was called for a double hit violation and Davies served six straight points, including four more aces to give her team a second straight five-set home victory over Artesia. Glenn has now won 14 of the last 16 home meetings with Artesia.

Gomez and Ramirez led Glenn with nine kills each while Davies and sophomore opposite hitter Stephanie Lemus both added seven kills. Davies also put down 12 aces while sophomore setter Chanel Villegas pitched in with 10 more aces. Briseno led everyone with 24 kills.

“There’s a huge lack of experience,” Burpo said. “So when things are tough, we’re falling apart real easy. In the long term, I want to be a little tougher on them now to make them stronger later. It may affect a few points here and there. It was just an emotional breakdown.”

Artesia, which was swept by Norwalk this past Tuesday to fall to 1-6 overall and 0-3 in league, will visit Mayfair on Tuesday and host Bellflower on Thursday while Glenn is home to Cerritos on Tuesday. Glenn went 3-4 in the Whittier Tournament last weekend before losing to Bellflower in three sets this past Tuesday. The Lady Eagles fell to 5-12 overall and 1-2 in league.

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