Two matches into their respective 2017 volleyball seasons, Westmont’s Matt Siamu and Prospect’s Daniel Okazaki were both looking for the same thing out of their teams — consistency.
“We are starting to find our rhythm on offense, but I’d like it to be more consistent,” Siamu said after his Warriors split their first two matches of the year last week.
“I’d like to see us improve on consistent energy and defensive effort,” said Okazaki after his Panthers lost twice to begin their season.
The two squads opened their seasons against each other Aug. 30 at Westmont with the Warriors achieving a straight set victory over the Panthers— 25-13, 25-19, 25-21.
“Our defense was huge against Prospect,” said Siamu. “We were able to pass well in serve-receive and from that we were able to run plays on offense. Our offense was very consistent and able to use the sets they were given to put the ball away.”
Junior outside hitter Melina Mahood led the way to victory with a team-best nine kills, while teammate Samantha Rogers dealt out 12 assists, Marlena Zimmerman came up with seven digs, Kinsey Crema registered three blocks, and Julia Kazos recorded four service aces.
“I was most pleased with the defense,” noted Siamu. “We covered the ball well and really gave our offense an opportunity to make plays.”
“We were a bit shaky and overthinking things a bit,” Okazaki said, admitting his team may have been “too excited” for the first game of the year. “We definitely had some great moments, but we need to work on our consistency.”
Westmont followed up its win over the Panthers with a 25-22, 25-17, 25-17 loss to the Harker Eagles a day later.
Despite the setback, Siamu found plenty to be pleased with in his team’s play.
“Our blocking improved dramatically compared to our match with Prospect,” he said.
After registering just five blocks against the Panthers, the Warriors more than doubled their total with a dozen blocks against the Eagles.
“Stopping their hitters was a huge part of us staying in the game,” Siamu said.
Kazos, Crema and Mahood recorded three blocks apiece to spark the Warriors’ strong defensive effort at the net.
Mahood again topped the team in kills with eight and added three aces and six digs.
Rogers dished out 13 assists and Zimmerman came up with six digs.
After the Harker match, Siamu zeroed in on his team’s serving as an area he would like to see his team upgrade.
“I really want to see an improvement in our serving,” he said. “Two games in a row we had 10-plus service errors and that’s too many free points for the other team.”
The Warriors open their Blossom Valley Athletic League Mt. Hamilton Division season against the Del Mar Dons on Sept. 12 at home in a 6 p.m. match.
The Dons were idle last week after opening their year with a straight-set win over the Oak Grove Eagles.
After dropping its opener to Westmont, the Panthers fell to 0-2 in the young season when they were swept 25-12, 25-20, 25-16 by the Saratoga Falcons on Aug. 31 at Saratoga.
“Our serving has always been a strength and it was again in this match,” said Okazaki, focusing on the positive aspects of the Panthers’ play. “I have confidence in all my girls to go out and put up quality serves that will keep the opponents off balance.
“We thrive on defense and serving, and when there are mental lapses that can be the game right there,” he added. “Making up four or five points because of our lack of focus is tough to do every set. I think it’s just the beginning-of-the-season rust that will work itself out soon.”
The Panthers will travel to meet the Lincoln Lions at Lincoln on Sept. 12, for their BVAL Santa Teresa Division opener. The match is scheduled to start at 6 p.m.