Santa Clara High (1-4) entered Tuesday’s match at Saratoga High (4-1) towards the bottom of the El Camino League standings. However, it is clear that teams would be unwise to sleep on the Bruins.
These Bruins showed much more moxie on Tuesday than the team has in recent seasons. It was also a gritty effort from Santa Clara given the fact it took on the Falcons while missing four players to either injury or vacation, causing multiple starters to play in unfamiliar positions.
Despite the moving parts, Santa Clara could have easily won two of the first three sets in what was an eventual 3-1 loss (22-25, 16-25, 25-20, 16-26) to the Falcons. The Bruins players were excellent from behind the line with a trio of long service runs from three different servers.
Sophomore Naomi Hunt had a 10-point service run; senior Evonne Bergman had a nine-point run and junior Dania Gizaw had a seven-point run. All of the service runs included multiple aces, not to mention junior Preesha Vaswani, who had back-to-back aces in the first set that tied the score 21-21 and then gave the Bruins a brief lead at 22-21.
“We definitely do a lot of pressure serving at practice,” noted Hunt when asked what makes the squad so strong at serving. “A lot of us also have experience outside of school at club.”
“That was probably our best serving game thus far,” chimed Head Coach Martina Carrillo. “Our serving is great, but it’s when it matters the most that we sometimes fall short or have a serving error. So those instances make me feel like we need to work on our serves and so we’ve definitely implemented it a little bit more at practice to add pressure to the serves.”
In addition to the strong service performances, Santa Clara saw pristine performances on the defensive side of things with senior libero Cheyene De Guzman and sophomore libero Ninya Udinoor.
“She’s the most athletic person I’ve met,” praised Bergman on Udinoor’s ability to stand out on varsity as only a sophomore. “She’s amazing on offense and defense. She gets in spots that nobody else really can. Other teams try to find those spots where no players are there, but Ninya always manages to get her way there. She’s fast.”
As a whole, the Bruins players were extremely fast to the ball defensively. Had they had their full squad for this game offensively, perhaps the outcome would have been different. The confidence is sky high despite the loss.
“Most definitely,” responded Bergman without hesitation on whether the outcome would have gone in their favor with a healthy squad. “Malaiya [Branner], Soojin [Spencer], Glaiza [Buenaflor], our middles today are usually our outsides, so obviously hitting and different rotations, different timing issues played a role tonight. We had to try and make do with what we had.”
“We play them again on our senior night, so you know we are going to come out hungry,” added coach Carrillo.
That rematch with the Falcons will take place Oct. 16. Next up for the Bruins though is Lynbrook this Thursday, Sept. 28.