By Rick Assad
It’s not for a lack of desire or wanting to get off on the right foot that sidetracked the Burbank High girls’ volleyball team on Tuesday afternoon in a nonleague match versus visiting Immaculate Heart.
Rather it was a lack of being familiar with one another that doomed the young squad as the Pandas claimed a 25-13, 25-7, 14-25, 25-14 decision.
There were times when the Bulldogs played well like the third set but then there was the second set.
Too many hitting errors and service mistakes didn’t help the Bulldogs’ cause, but there is more than enough time to straighten these problems out.
“For the girls’ first game, I thought they did a great job,” Burbank first-year coach Morgan Bolger said. “In the first two sets they had a difficult time pushing through their nerves and first game jitters, but the third set is where they really took back their control.”
After being deadlocked 1-1, 2-2 and 4-4, Burbank (0-1) rushed to a 7-5 edge in the third set on a kill from junior outside hitter Allie Foenander.
It was even at 7-7, but the Bulldogs scored 11 of the next 13 points and led 18-9 on a mishit by the Pandas, which lost to Pacifica Christian [Newport Beach] in their season opener in five sets.
An ace from junior opposite hitter Brianna [Bee] Barona made it 22-11 and a service ace from Foenander secured the set and made it two sets to one in favor of Immaculate Heart.
“As a team they need to focus on consistency and control during games and learn how to slow down the game for themselves,” Bolger pointed out. “Although we have things to work on, I’m proud of them for what they did tonight and I’m excited for their season.”
The fourth set saw the Pandas take a 2-0 lead and a 3-0 advantage when senior outside hitter Kimi Watanabe-Mayhew, who played extremely well, tossed in back-to-back winners.
Sophomore middle hitter Caitlin Mathers added a push for the Pandas who marched in front 6-2 and 9-4 on yet another tapper from Mathers.
Sophomore libero/defensive specialist Rose Casey chimed in with a winner for Immaculate Heart (1-1) that made it 11-4 and 13-6 on Casey’s kill.
Watanabe-Mayhew’s blast handed the Pandas a 16-10 cushion and 20-11 lead on yet another smash by Watanabe-Mayhew who seemed to be all over the floor.
Mathers then accounted for three straight points on a block and two straight kills including the second that saw Burbank ask for a time out.
The set and match were made official when Watanabe-Mayhew tossed in a push.
A couple of players stood out according to Bolger, senior libero Olivia Romagnino and junior outside hitter Maddy Edwards.
“I think Olivia really shined tonight. She was extremely focused on the game, and put our practices into play,” she said. “I also think Maddy did an amazing job with her serving run in the third set. I’m so proud of both of them.”
Immaculate Heart came out of the starting gate ready for bear as it led 2-0 on a kill from junior setter Kaylie Shigematsu.
The Bulldogs fought their way back to make it 2-2 on a blast from Foenander and level it at 4-4 on a push from senior opposite hitter Addy Ritner.
Panda senior setter Abrielle McNeal made it 6-6 and it became 9-9 on a service winner from Immaculate Heart’s senior Yasmine Moran.
The momentum was seized by the Pandas as they captured eight consecutive points and led 17-9.
Immaculate Heart sophomore middle hitter Jade Jackson, was also everywhere on the court, added a kill that put the visitors ahead 13-9 as the Bulldogs needed a stoppage in play.
Casey’s dart made it 16-9 and Jackson’s laser pushed the advantage to 18-10.
Jackson’s winner made it 21-11 and Casey’s service ace handed the Pandas a 22-11 lead as Burbank needed a time out.
Senior middle hitter Leila Murphy’s kill made it 24-13 and Watanabe-Mayhew’s dagger sealed the deal and the first set.
The second set started even better for the Pandas who led 4-0 on a kill from Watanabe-Mayhew.
Stubborn, the Bulldogs drew within 6-5 on an ace from junior setter Carly Chapman, but Immaculate Heart cleared the deck and led 10-5 on an ace from Watanabe-Mayhew as the hosts needed a stoppage in time.
The Pandas scored nine straight points and forged a 19-5 margin as Watanabe-Mayhew accounted for five points including four aces and three in a row that made it 17-5, 18-5 and 19-5.
Murphy’s kill pushed the lead to 22-7 and Casey’s push made it 23-7. Casey’s tapper ended the set and gave the Pandas a two games to none lead.