The San Diego Jewish Academy Lady Lions girls volleyball team (9-1,1-1) lost their first match of the season after going on an impressive unbeaten streak. In a Citrus West League match last Thursday at their new gymnasium, SDJA lost a marathon match 3-2 to the other Lady Lions, Calvary Christian (4-1,1-0) of Vista by the scores of 19-25, 25-14, 20-25, 25-23, and 11-15.
Despite the loss, it's been a good season so far for the Jewish Academy. Under first year Head Coach Melissa Maxwell, the Lady Lions have won more matches this season than the previous three years combined.
"It's a combination of things that have given our team this success," said Maxwell. "We formed a good structure to this volleyball program. Also it's the support of the athletic department and finally the athletes willing to learn. We broke down the game and focused on the fundamentals. Our motto this year is, "Play hard, play smart, and play with heart.'"
Game one had five ties and six lead changes. With the score knotted at 7-7, Calvary Christian's Debbie Perea jumped-served four straight points increasing the lead to 11-7. Maxwell called a timeout to stop the momentum and it worked, as SDJA scored the next point. But Calvary Christian would stretch their lead to 23-15 with two service aces by Perea. SDJA mounted a mini-comeback as Mackenzie Norman served three straight points closing the gap to 19-24. Game point came on Calvary Christian's Christa Meier's kill.
Game two was tied at 4-4, when SDJA's super freshman Gabi Rothman jumped served 10 straight points, which included an outstanding seven aces. It pushed the Lady Lions' lead to 14-4. Calvary Christian tried to come back with Shannon Hoskins' two ace serves, but the lead was too big. The Jewish Academy maintained a double digit lead and won the game when a Calvary Christian serve went into the net - all even at 1-1.
The pivotal third game was tied six times with seven lead changes. With the score 12-11 in favor of Calvary Christian, Taylor Water served five straight points coupled with two aces to give the team some breathing room at 17-11. Aliza Grossman served three straight points to close the gap to 17-15, but a SDJA kill went into the net for the game point and Calvary Christian was up two games to one.
In game four, SDJA freshman Katie Sherman reeled off five straight service points giving the Lady Lions a 10-5 lead. That increased to a comfortable lead of 21-13, but Calvary Christian began to chip away getting the next seven straight points, with kills by Alyx Marasciullo and an ace by Christa Meier, closing the gap to 21-20.
The home team fans at the Carmel Valley gym were on the edge of their seats, knowing that if their team lost this game, they would lose the match. Calvary Christian tied the game at 22-22 with blocks by Misty Swapp and Shannon Hoskins, but SDJA came back fueled by Sofia Gross' two kills and won the game on Mackenzie Norman's ace serve. The match was knotted at 4-4.
After a 7-7 tussle in the final game, SDJA went up 11-9. But Calvary Christian's Megan Whetsel served six straight points including one ace, with the game and match point coming on a SDJA ball that went into the net.
"We lost with grace," said Maxwell after the match. "When we were down two to one in games, we came back and played hard. We go into every match with the right mentally."
"This is just a fork in the road," said Gabi Rothman, who ended up with 12 kills and 17 assists. "We have a great team and we can achieve a lot this season."