Walking into Thursday’s match against La Cañada, the Hart girls volleyball team looked to make a statement in their 3-2 win in the final preleague game before they start league play next week.
Beginning the first game with an ace, Megan Soto set the tone for the Indians (4-1) as they went point-for-point with the Spartans at La Cañada High School. After a timeout by the Spartans with Hart leading 13-12, the home team rattled off three points in a row to take the lead, 15-13.
Hart’s Grace Eck had other plans as she was able to hit an ace to turn the tide and get the Indians’ momentum back, forcing the Spartans to call another timeout.
A flurry of kills by Zoe DiNardo, Megan Soto and Shelby Grubbs did the Spartans in and Hart won 25-19.
DiNardo led the team with 15 kills and Grubbs added nine kills and 11 blocks in the match.
Winning the second game by the exact same score, 25-19, the Indians needed one more game to come out and steal a match on the road.
Heading into the third game, it looked like the Indians were well on their way to sweeping, but got a little ahead of themselves. Hart slipped up and eased off the gas pedal, allowing the Spartans to control the game virtually the whole time and win 25-21.
“I think we were a little uncomfortable because we have been used to Kylie Mattson running the show and we changed a lot of the lineup tonight and we were kind of on our toes, but I felt like we just got comfortable and it showed as we dropped the third set,” DiNardo said.
Providing a much-needed spark, the home crowd and bench started to get louder and louder in the fourth game.
With a little confidence and the home crowd behind them, the Spartans rode the wave of momentum and took down the Indians 25-22 to force a fifth and decisive game.
Things didn’t look good for the Indians, but they didn’t lose their cool and fought back.
Leading the charge for the Indians were Soto and Grubbs, who time and time again came up big with a timely ace or a big kill to get the Indians faithful roaring throughout the fifth game.
“A lot for the time in club, I have to play all the way around so I’m used to having bigger blockers on me so I just want to show everyone that I’m good and that they can’t underestimate me because I’m small,” Soto said.
Soto finished the game with eight kills and three aces.
Getting ahead of the Spartans, the Indians dug deep and pulled out the Game 5 victory 15-9 to take the match against La Cañada, 3-2.
CJ Catabona finished the game with six aces and 20 assists and Noelle Blumel chipped in with 27 digs.
“I saw a lot of leadership when we were down,” DiNardo said. “I feel like we turned to each other to help each other out. I saw a lot of mistakes but it didn’t discourage us, we kind of just kept playing on and coming back. I saw a lot of things that we can improve on.”
Heading into league play, the Hart girls volleyball team understands that improvements can and will be made, but feel comfortable with the way they finished their non-league schedule.
The Indians travel to Valencia to take on the Vikings at 5:15 p.m. on Thursday.
“There needs to be leaders on the court earlier to establish that missing role with (Mattson) out, but when you have someone out someone else has to step in … I think we all just learned that we need to all contribute to those roles going into league,” Hart head coach Mary Irilian said.