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Aztecs volleyball drops close battle
BARSTOW • The Barstow volleyball team has the talent. Now it’s just a matter of refining things a bit.
The Lady Aztecs won their first couple of matches this season, both of which were non-leaguers and both of which went to five games. On Tuesday, Barstow hosted Burroughs for its first Desert Sky League duel, and lost to the Burros, 3-1.
Game one was taken handily by Burroughs, but the last three were all battles. Lady Aztecs head coach Brooke Verrill is hoping it won’t take long before her team is winning these close match-ups.
“I have a lot of talent here, but we need to keep talking, keep focused,” said the coach after Tuesday’s loss. “I feel like we play to our opponent’s level, and as a coach I’m trying to get the team past that. I don’t feel like they beat us, but we beat ourselves.”
The Aztecs did beat themselves in game one which they lost, 25-15. Out of bounds hits and long serves proved costly.
“We were sleepy in game one, we weren’t talking to each other,” said coach Verrill. “I’m not a yeller, but I had to yell to get us to come together as a team.”
Apparently the message got across, because the match was competitive from then on. Game two was tied from the first point up to 10, with the two squads trading points back and forth. With Heather Verrill at the service line, the Aztecs opened up a 13-10 lead, and held on to win, 25-22.
The last two games were taken by the Burros, but both were close the whole way. Burroughs jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the third game, but couldn’t shake its opponent. An eight-point lead later evaporated behind two aces by Verrill and nice kills at the net by Maxine Cooks, and it was a 16-16 game. It stayed close down the stretch, with Burroughs ending up on top, 25-23.
Game four was another that was tied numerous times. The Burros took a four-point lead in the teens, but the Aztecs chipped away, and when Tiare Alefaio served up an ace, it tied the game at 17. It was then tied at 18, 19 and 20, before a kill by Harley Carter gave the home team a one-point lead, 23-22. That was the last point Barstow would get, though, as the Burros won, 25-23.
Verrill finished with 11 kills, while Cooks had seven kills and four blocks. Chelsea Phillips had 18 digs, Teonia Gonzales eight digs, and Breanna Low five aces and three blocks.
The fact that no one was in double figures with blocks conveyed a lot to coach Verrill.
“We didn’t finish with a lot of aggressive numbers. Those low block numbers and 10 serving errors really cost us in a close match,” she said. “Maxine did well with kills tonight, and Harley made me proud, delevering when we needed it. But we have to be more consistent.”
Barstow will host Victor Valley for a 5:30 p.m. varsity start on Thursday.