West Ranch's Erin Eskoff (20) and Alicia Zimmerman (8) deflect a shot by Sierra Canyon at West Ranch on Thursday. Dan Watson/The Signal

West Ranch girls volleyball drops three straight sets to Sierra Canyon

By Bryanna Winner

For the Signal

The West Ranch Wildcats girls volleyball team dropped three straight sets to the Sierra Canyon Trailblazers Thursday night at home: 25-12, 25-15, and 25-20.

The Trailblazers, who were 10-1 before this match, were playing the quick game and the Wildcats were constantly changing to keep up with their style of play.

“They ran out a pretty quick defense, so we had to adjust because their sets were pretty different to how our sets were,” said junior middle blocker Funmi Idowu. “When the setter was dumping or when they were hitting inwards more, we’d had to adjust more, even with our hands and our feet. Our coach [Ker] really helped us recall what we had to do again over and over.”

“I think we could’ve played a little bit stronger,” said senior defensive specialist Arianna Romagnano, “but one of the things that we did really well today was that in practice, we’ve really been working on our transition hitting, so like high-ball hitting and hitting off of a dig and we did really well today at hitting those balls because it’s something that has been a weakness of ours.” 

West Ranch’s Gwen Garate (51) sets the ball for teammate Funmi Idowu (12) against Sierra Canyon at West Ranch on Thursday. Dan Watson/The Signal

The Wildcats were able to hold their own and in the third set and tallied five straight points before the Trailblazers hit their rhythm.

“It was small little things we could’ve picked up on but as a whole, I think our team played pretty solid and they were just a really good team but I think we were able to stand our ground for a while,” said Romagnano.

One of the key points that the team was working on during practice this week showed during this match. 

“The thing that we’ve been working on which is transition offense, we spent a lot of time this week hammering that home and we did a wonderful job of it,” said coach Jamey Ker. “It is easy to say that’s what I’m the most pleased with because it’s really nice to see an immediate return on your investment, so to speak.”

“We spent time on doing something and now we are getting better at that thing in a six-on-six environment, which is good news,” said Ker.

One of the highlights and key plays for one player came during the third set.

West Ranch’s Roxanne Tunnicliffe (3) puts a shot over the net against Sierra Canyon at West Ranch on Thursday. Dan Watson/The Signal

“When Gwen (Garate) set Erin (Eskoff) in the third set and Erin got high hands off on one of their tallest players,” said Idowu.

Some of the team had key plays that turned the tide during certain points in the match to gain some momentum against the Trailblazers. 

“Our hitters [sophomores] Kylie Gustin and Tharushi Silva,” said Romagnano. “Silva came in and she was originally on the bench but she came in a took her moment and she got a bunch of crazy kills when she hit in between the block, she hit around the block and she utilized her skill of being a really good hitter well.”

“I think we did a really nice job of changing our defense based on what [Sierra Canyon] was doing,” said Ker. “It’s the first time we’ve done that in a long time and it’s something I’ve been getting on their cases about, saying ‘hey can make changes against a team on the fly rapidly, they did a nice job of making changes from a defense standpoint and it made a difference for us.”

Even with all the ups in the match, there were some parts that they feel they need to work on and could’ve gone better.

“I think we could’ve passed a little bit better,” said Romagnano. “We got jammed a lot, meaning that the serves were too deep and we kept getting stuck close to them and we passed a lot of ones, which messed with our transition plays, because we could’ve gotten a lot more hits off of them. 

“We need to work on communication, and the way we touch the ball better, our passers and even our hitters picking attack lines, and knowing when to swing hard and when not to,” said Idowu.

West Ranch’s Kaitlyn Jizmejian (11) returns a shot by Sierra Canyon at West Ranch on Thursday. Dan Watson/The Signal

The Wildcats are going to continue making improvements as the season progresses.

“More of the same, transition offense, making less errors since that is something we’ve been making too often,” said Ker. “We are very close to a point where we are making less errors since the ones we are making are aggressive ones. Those are the best errors to make. So as long as we keep being aggressive, essentially, those errors are going to diminish a little bit.”

The 10-3 Wildcats will travel to Canyon High School to face the 3-5 Cowboys on Thursday, Sept. 12.

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