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Sacred Heart volleyball goes five games in CIF loss

Tologs make strong bid to upset Valencia, but fall in fifth game on road.

November 06, 2012|By Grant Gordon

VALENCIA — Cliched as it can sound, volleyball often is a game of runs.

That proved true, at least for the first three games, on Tuesday evening when Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy faced off with host Valencia Valencia in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division I-A playoffs.

But, while the Tologs and Vikings traded momentum and games, rarely did they trade points over the first three games, which were uncharacteristic of a close match in their lopsided scores. When the fourth and deciding fifth games played out, a back-and-forth nature somewhat came to fruition, but Sacred Heart's inexperience so too came to the forefront, as the upstart Tologs lost their upset bid to the Vikings, 10-25, 25-12, 5-25, 25-18, 15-12.

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"A lot of it is the inexperience of my girls," said first-year Tologs Coach Ernest Banaag, whose team features only one senior in Colleen Degnan, who had 27 digs in her final match. "Nerves. As a coach, you just have to think it's inexperience."

Owning a 2-1 lead in games and seemingly riding the momentum of a 25-5 win in the third game, the Tologs (15-16) couldn't close it out, as the Vikings gained early advantages in both the fourth and fifth games. As had been a pattern in the first three games, whoever got an early lead won. But in a slight difference, the Tologs were able to keep it close.

"In the fifth game, I think if we would have got a lead, that would've carried us," said Banaag, whose team was led by junior Katie Conley's 11 kills and four blocks.

Valencia (25-10), which won the Foothill League title, jumped out to an 8-4 lead in the fifth game, but the Tologs would catch them at 11 — the latest a game was tied all night long. However, as they've now done 10 consecutive times in matches that have gone to a deciding game — whether a best-of-three or best-of-five — the Vikings came out on top in the end, as they scored four of the match's last five points. Sacred Heart finished the year 1-4 in matches that went to a deciding game.

"The fifth game, it's a nice bit of knowledge to know we've been there a lot and always came out on top," said Vikings Coach Ray Sanchez, whose team's streak included a best-of-three, three-game win over the Tologs at the Redondo Union Tournament. "Credit to Flintridge, though, they battled. They were right there [in the fifth game]. They're a very young team and they're talented and we just barely survived."

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