YUCCA VALLEY — The Yucca Valley High School varsity volleyball team moved up to a 2-1 league record with a win in three straight sets against the Cathedral City Lions Tuesday.
“They did amazing,” head coach Tammy Rhodes said as the girls celebrated. “Every match they’re getting better and better.”
Yucca Valley won 25-13, then made five unforced errors to let the Lions get closer in the second set before the Trojans took the win 25-18.
Before the final set, Rhodes sketched out the Lions’ defense — huddled in the middle of the court — and told her girls to strike accordingly.
“We gave them five points,” Rhodes told her players. “No more mistakes. We need 25 more points to win. Bust your butts out there. You’ll do great.”
The girls responded with smart positioning on their returns, sending the ball into the gaps.
Two kills in a row by junior Loryn Brimhall got them up 7-4, while from the service line senior Ella Villamero, heeding Rhodes’ advice, arrowed the ball deep into the corners to keep Yucca Valley in charge.
The Trojans kept up their precision moves and pulled ahead 20-17 with a kill from Stacie Alexander that had her older sister, junior captain Katie Alexander, leading a chant of, “She’s our freshman!” from the sidelines.
More ace serving got the Trojans to 24-10 and a missed serve from the Lions gave Yucca the final winning point for a 25-10 victory.
Rhodes was still enthused from practice the day before, when they’d drilled down on some of their weak points. “Everything we worked on, we saw the results of that today,” she said.
The girls continue to get more confident on their serves. “We’re using our serving as a form of attack,” Rhodes said. “I think we were really successful on that tonight.”
The two starting servers, freshman Stacie Alexander and senior captain Annie Hilderbrand, made no serving errors. Hilderbrand served two aces, Brimhall led with five aces and Villamero put in three.
Alexander led on attacks with eight kills, and Brimhall and senior Evalynn Large were right behind her with seven. Hilderbrand had four kills and even the libero, senior Ella Villamero, had two.
“That’s amazing,” Rhodes said. “Your libero usually never has kills.”
Villalermo did her work on the court with 19 digs; Alexander had 10.
Rhodes also singled out middle blocker Hailey Griswold, a junior. “She is getting more aggressive every game,” Rhodes said. “She must have had at least five blocks today.”
This is Griswold’s first year in varsity. “I just put her in a big position, really in the middle of the intersection, and she’s stepped up,” Rhodes said.