The Wilcox Chargers charged out of the gate against the Pioneer Mustangs, gaining the inside track early with a 25-17 victory in the first set. Pioneer battled back to take the next two sets, 25-21 and 25-18. Facing a must win set in the fourth, Wilcox stemmed the tide with a 25-19 victory to force a decisive fifth set. Unfortunately for Chargers fans, the fifth set was all Pioneer as the Mustangs sprung to leads of 5-1 and 9-3, eventually winning by a comfortable 15-7 margin.
“Ball control…not so great,” remarked Chargers Head Coach April Lujan on the loss after a rather lengthy post-game meeting with her squad. “Setting locations weren’t the best, but I’ve already had a talk with Elise [Corwin]. We’re gonna continue to work on it because I know she can set the locations. Hopefully, that will be a quick fix.”
Corwin and Deena Pederson, are the Chargers’ two captains this year, but they are certainly far from the only seniors on the roster. Wilcox boasts 10 seniors out of 14 girls on the roster, so expectations appear rather high for this team. This season is Corwin’s third on varsity and for Pederson it’s her fourth.
“Obviously, we want to go out strong and hopefully make it to CCS. In order to do that we have to do pretty well in league,” remarked Corwin. “That’s in the back of our heads, but we know in order to get there we can’t just relax and not be focused. It takes so much to get to CCS. Right now, our mentality is not there and if we continue with this mentality we probably won’t make it. But I think most of us want it enough to push the other girls to follow our lead.”
“I’ve told the girls what my expectations are,” added coach Lujan. “I have also had sit down meetings with each of the seniors. Some of them will not get playing time because I have so many girls. I’m going to play the girls that are the strongest and most consistent based on the stats. ‘This girl is passing better than you, she’s going to play, this girl is hitting better than you, she’s going to play.’ It’s not based off ‘oh, you’ve been a part of this program for four years, you’re gonna get to play.’ I’ve made that very clear to them.”
“They also know if they are not producing, I do have JV players that I can call up to make us more successful,” continued coach Lujan. “I think we are going to be one of the strongest teams in the El Camino division if we can get our ball control better. I would like to make a run at CCS with this team. I think they are capable of doing it, we just have to work on ball control and trust.”
In terms of trust, coach Lujan showed a lot of it in junior Annika Slate, putting the junior in for her first action in the must-win fourth set. Slate provided a key spark off the bench. She came up with multiple blocks in helping propel the Chargers into forcing that fifth and final set.