Seventeen postseason games in two years can’t help but provide the St. Lucy’s volleyball team a little perspective on a regular-season Tuesday night.
Despite first place being on the line in the Sierra League and the two teams separated by two points or less late in each game, St. Lucy’s earned a sweep over Ayala by game scores of 25-18, 25-19 and 25-20.
The No. 1 team in CIF-SS Division 1-A came through when it mattered most, winning the last five points of the first game and the final four of the second and third games to extend their league lead to two games over Ayala (11-7-1, 4-2).
Despite multiple players with two championship rings, St. Lucy’s (13-5, 6-0) has even found a circumstance this season that gives it added motivation. Neither of the past two Regents teams have gone undefeated in league, something squarely in focus for the 2012 team. In fact none of the four consecutive league champions at St. Lucy’s have gone undefeated in league.
This year’s version is obviously on pace to do that in the win column, but a closer look provides even more evidence. St. Lucy’s has won 18 of 19 sets thus far in a league that had five of its six teams ranked in the top 10 of its CIF-SS Division last season.
“This team is further ahead of where I thought they would be at this point,” St. Lucy’s coach Sean Douglas said. “They’re more determined to make a statement with every match.”
Junior Veronica La Pierre led a balanced St. Lucy’s effort with 11 kills and senior Vanessa Caustrita added 10 kills for the Regents. Both were instrumental in closing out each game.
“They’re just too good to make any mistakes against,” Ayala coach Bernie Wendling said. “We were right there, but we made just enough mistakes to seal the deal for them.”
Junior setter Erin Clark led the Bulldogs with 12 kills and Sam Bozoian and Shannon Bell had six kills apiece. The trio kept Ayala close, going on a 5-1 run in the first game to pull within 19-17 only for St. Lucy’s to take over down the stretch. In the second game, Ayala won six of nine points to pull within 21-19 and the Bulldogs led most of the third game until St. Lucy’s pulled into an 18-18 tie and won seven of the final nine points.
“They put you in some uncomfortable situations,” Douglas said, “and we knew they were going to do that.”
St. Lucy’s definition of uncomfortable, however, is different than most evidenced by the methodical execution in the most significant moments of each game.
“It’s a privilege to play with them,” Wendling said. “They’re that good. I wish we could have stretched them to four or five games. But there’s no shame in the way we played them. This is a tough league and we’re proud of our progress.”