SDA girls sweep LCC in early season volleyball clash
There were no titles, rankings or trophies on the line Tuesday night in Encinitas but it still felt like a pretty meaningful contest when La Costa Canyon visited San Dieguito Academy for the first girls’ volleyball meeting between the two schools since 2018.
And when it was over with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-14) San Dieguito victory confirmed, there was a sense, at least for the moment, that a changing of the guard in the rivalry was a possibility. The outcome improved the Mustangs season record to 10-4 while the Mavericks, who have reached the last six CIF Open Division brackets, fell to 1-4. Sixth-year SDA Head Coach Will Raschke kept it in perspective but still acknowledged the significance of the result.
“For sure, it was important, LCC has been a top-five type program in San Diego for a long time,” he said. “They have some really good players but I think we probably have more depth than they do right now. They know what they’re doing over there, though, and they’ve got a talented new coaching staff that’s trying to build back a little bit.
“Still, especially when you combine it with our earlier wins over other consistently top level programs like San Marcos and Santa Fe Christian, it definitely felt good.”
The first two sets had similar choppy tempos. The early play in game one went back-and-forth to 7-7. Then the Mustangs strung together five points in a row and were able to maintain the advantage the rest of the way. In the second, the rivals battled to 16-all. Behind the serving of sophomore Presley Thompson, LCC seemingly took control with a three-point splurge. But SDA immediately responded with six consecutive points to go up 22-19. The Mavs came right back with three of their own to deadlock it again. The teams exchanged the next two points, making it 23-23, before SDA scored the last two to close it out.
In the decisive third, the hosts methodically ran up a lead that reached as high as 10, cruising down the stretch for the straight set triumph. Hitting or blocking, neither team had a go-to terminator up front and, ultimately, it was defense and ball control that allowed the Mustangs to prevail.
“Particularly on the longer points, we outlasted them, we had a broader defense,” said Raschke. “Our offense wasn’t clicking on all cylinders but it worked enough and our defense was able to keep us in points and ultimately games.
“Especially at the end of the first and second games, we made less mistakes and forced errors.”
Junior outside hitter Joie Brown had a productive stat line for the winners, collecting nine kills, nine digs and four of SDA’s 10 aces. Juniors Hannah Demiter and Lexie Richards recorded seven kills and 16 assists respectively. Senior Jenna Rausche led LCC with 13 kills.
Chris Morris, La Costa Canyon’s first-year head coach, whose club came into Tuesday night’s fray with only four matches under its belt (10 less than SDA) and without the services of standout junior Jaidyn Jager, out for the year rehabbing a knee injury, was circumspect in evaluating what transpired.
“I think we have a ways to go,” he said realistically. “A lot of it is just a matter of anticipation and reading the plays—we need to get better at that. Our serve receive, some of our offensive choices and our effort weren’t where they need to be.”
Maybe it was being on its own home court or maybe it had to do with the fact that nobody on either side can remember the last time San Dieguito defeated LCC in girls’ volleyball, but the home team definitely had the advantage when it came to energy and grit this time around. Brown believes her team may have approached the task at hand with a different mindset than past SDA squads.
“They’re a strong team, a local rival and this is the first time we’ve played them in a while, so we were pretty excited,” said Brown. “We’ve been working really hard and came into the match with confidence, knowing that we could beat them and not playing like an underdog.”
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