By RICHARD J. MARCUS
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
In an early season nonleague battle between two small school girls volleyball teams on Tuesday night, what figured on paper to be a nail-biting rematch of last year's NCS Division 6 championship game turned out to be surprisingly one-sided.
Anderson Valley (4-0), which defeated Rincon Valley Christian (0-2) in five games in last year’s title match, won in three games, 25-21, 25-17, 25-16, in the rematch.
The visiting Panthers appeared to be in midseason form — utilizing a pesky defense and deft passing to control the match.
“We really rely on our defensive skills,” Anderson Valley coach Michael McDonald. “We win a lot of games in the beginning of the season because of our defense.”
Game 1 was tight with RVC taking a 13-12 lead. The Panthers eventually tied the game 16-16 and then went on a 9-5 run to win the game 25-21. A big factor in the loss for Eagles was a high number of service errors (6).
“Our front row is strong, but our back needs more consistency,” RVC coach Jim Andrews said. “We had some shanks and stuff but we tightened that up in the next couple of games.”
The Eagles, led by senior Hannah Andrews in the middle, did cut back on the service errors in Games 2 and 3 but weren’t able to overcome the Panthers’ tough defense and ball control.
“They (Anderson Valley) are great when it comes to pass, pass, and pass. They are like a machine,” Andrews said. “They are masters at keeping the ball off the floor.”
Anderson Valley led Game 2 from wire to wire and put away the game 25-17 on a service ace down the line by Danielle Andersen.
Game 3 was tied 10-10 before the Panthers took control on a 7-2 run en route to a 25-16 match-clinching game.
Anderson Valley — which employs an unconventional style of passing with the setter using a bump-set instead of the more standard hand-set — was led by seniors Mirla Gaxiola and Kirina Perez as well as freshman Alex Farber.
Farber had an impressive sequence late in Game 3 as she made a running save of a teammate’s errant hit and then scrambled back to the net to score a point for the Eagles on a defensive block.
Meanwhile, as the match wore on RVC seemed to go flat and Eagles players seemed to lose a step.
“We are working on our endurance still. Some of the girls need to pick up their endurance and speed,” Andrews said. “We got a little worn down. We need to work on finishing games.”
Even though RVC was beaten soundly by defending champ Anderson Valley, Andrews said one of his worries about his team — passing — will continue to improve throughout the year.
“I see a lot that we have to build on so my outlook is optimistic,” Andrews said.
McDonald had praise for his opponent: “The Eagles just keep coming at you with those swings.”