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Photo by Chelsea Buchanan
Barstow libero DeAnna Lopez gives the ball a bump as teammates Breanna Low (9) and Katelyn Andrews (2) stand ready in Wednesday's match.

Close loss for Lady Aztecs

BARSTOW • It was a loss, but one that represented a step up.

The Lady Aztecs played some of their best volleyball of the season on Wednesday. Silverado came to town and won in three games, but they were all close ones: 25-21, 25-21, 25-23.

It would be hard to stick closer to an opponent and still not take a win. The Aztecs came close in all three games, never letting up in a match that featured some acrobatic plays and several long volleys.

“We were more cohesive and aggressive than we have been,” said head coach Tynelle Olivas. “It would have been nice to get a win, but for us to come out and play at this high caliber was impressive.”

As the final scores suggest, every game had the two teams trading points, particularly game one, when neither team scored more than three consecutive points in a stretch. The Hawks had some trouble keeping their kills in bounds, which helped the home team, but the Aztecs put their strong skills on display immediately and never let up.

Heather Verrill, the junior middle hitter, hadn’t been collecting kills in recent matches with the regularity that she did earlier in the season. On Wednesday, however, she was dangerous at the net all night, racking up some thunderous kills that put the Hawks back on their heels. Setter Shekinah-Joy Toloumu was also strong up front, with reliable sets and some sneaky dumps over the net.

“Shekinah made some amazing plays,” said Olivas. “And Verrill was on fire. Between blocks and kills and passing, she did it all. She even impressed (Hawks) coach Brown.”

The Hawks staked themselves to a seven-point lead early in game two, but the Aztecs came back to make it a close game. Barstow kept up its strong play on the front row, and frustrated the Hawks into some long hits. Katelyn Andrews, who served up an ace in the first game, did so again in game two, and there was some scrappy play from junior Vasa Alefaio, who was giving her all despite a broken pinky suffered in a previous match.

“That scrappiness we showed tonight, that’s my team. That’s the way we’re capable of playing,” said coach Olivas. “We’re always moving, always trying to make things happen. It was great to see.”

Verrill finished with 15 kills and five blocks, while Andrews served up three aces.

“Even though we didn’t win, we played amazingly well as a team,” said Olivas. “We played like I know we can.”

Lady Aztecs fans have one more chance to see their team this year. On Monday, Granite Hills visits for a 5:30 p.m. varsity start to the senior night match.

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