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John Glenn struggles early, comes back to take care of Artesia


By Loren Kopff

It wasn’t the crisp, clean match that Davion Jackson was looking for. But the first-year head coach of the John Glenn girls volleyball team will settle for a four-set win over Artesia that pushed his team’s overall record to an even .500 at the time.

The host Lady Eagles knocked off Artesia 18-25, 25-13, 25-6, 25-16 last Thursday afternoon for the school’s fifth straight win over the Pioneers and seventh in the last eight meetings. Glenn improved to 10-10 overall and 3-6 in league following the victory. When the teams met for the first time on Sept. 30, Glenn triumphed in four sets, winning the necessary three sets by a combined 13 points but lost the third set by two points.

“From the beginning of the game, I told them that when we played them the first time, we gave away two sets,” Jackson said. “It was all because of serve receive. We came off of not practicing yesterday because of a college expo in [the gymnasium]. So, we started off slow with our serve receive. In between games, I told them it was all us.”

Artesia built an early 10-4 lead in the opening set due to the serving of junior middle blocker Brianna Garcia (three aces), junior outside hitter Julianne Ramos (two aces) and senior opposite hitter Jessica Suarez (two aces and a kill). Artesia would get the lead to 20-11 before the Lady Eagles rallied to score four straight points. But aces from senior outside hitter Martina Kim and junior libero Janette Lee just added to the Glenn’s serve receive woes.

But Jackson shook up his lineup for the second set and the move paid off. He replaced junior setter Chanel Villegas with senior setter Krysta Diaz and the upperclassman responded in a big way. With Artesia leading 2-1, senior outside hitter Leslie Larranaga had a kill, then Diaz served 10 consecutive points. Diaz would later add back to back kills to increase the score to 15-4.

Even when the Pioneers scored three straight points at the end of the set, which would be the last time they would put together more than two straight points the rest of the way, Larranaga finished off the win when she served the final four straight points, the last two on aces.

Diaz continued her torrid play in the third set when she served 13 straight points to give the Lady Eagles a commanding 14-0 lead. She added five more aces in the set while senior middle blocker Zahory Ramirez had three kills and a block as part of those first 14 points.

“I felt like when I put Krysta in the game, that’s when everything changed,” Jackson said. “She’s more of a defensive player than my other setter and that’s what I need. I know in our first [match] with them, we were lacking defensively. Today, she came in and did what I needed her to do, which was be a gamer. She turned it around.”

Artesia tried to make things interesting in the fourth set by staying within three points until a kill from Larranaga, a double hit violation and another ace from Diaz made it 14-10. But after Glenn was called for a net violation, it got the serve back when Larranaga and Ramirez had back to back kills, plus one from senior outside hitter Nicole Cruz to put the set out of reach.

Ramirez paced the Lady Eagles with 13 kills, three blocks and three aces while Larranaga had a dozen kills and three aces and Cruz added another 11 kills. In addition, junior opposite hitter Stephanie Lemus and junior middle blocker Erika Espinoza pitched in with eight and seven kills respectively. With a roster of nine seniors, Jackson is beside himself as to why his team hasn’t performed much better this season, especially in league action.

“I’ve been asking myself that since we started,” Jackson said. “I feel like every game that we’ve lost, it’s all because of us. When we played Cerritos, I made a statement we gave away 36 points and lost by 25. The big word that I’ve been talking about is inconsistent.”

Artesia (2-14, 1-9), which was swept by Norwalk this past Tuesday and scored 41 points in the process, was led by Kim’s 11 kills. The rest of the team combined for 19 other kills. Artesia will wrap up the regular season at Mayfair on Monday and home against Bellflower on Wednesday.

Glenn, which survived a five-set win at Bellflower this past Tuesday to go to 11-10 overall and 4-6 in league, visited league champion La Mirada on Oct. 30 and will host Cerritos on Monday. Glenn has already assured itself of its best season in terms of victories since going 12-7 in 2002. The Lady Eagles still have the slightest of chances to actually tie for third place with two wins and a lot of help. Glenn has not advanced to the playoffs since 2009.

“I’m not going to say it’s a lost season,” Jackson said. “It will be a very disappointing season if we don’t make [the playoffs]. Like I told them on Tuesday, we set our sights on being number one. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened. We don’t start [strong]; we don’t come ready to play. These last three games are very winnable games.”