Follow No. 9.
It seemed like a simple plea from Bonanza girls volleyball coach Jared Wilkinson. His team was having trouble containing Sierra Vista outside hitter Brooke Robinson as she moved from sideline to sideline to set up big plays for the Lions in the final match of the 2009 regular season.
But the Bengals couldn’t follow.
Sierra Vista stormed to a three-game sweep of Bonanza 25-20, 27-25, 25-17 in a regular-season finale that was postponed after a water main broke in Bonanza’s gym last week. Robinson led the Lions with 19 kills, including the match winner off an assist from Christina Angarola, to finish the sweep.
“(Sierra Vista) came out and they had a game plan, which was to set Brooke Robinson, and we didn’t make the adjustments,” Wilkinson said. “That’s what they did all game long, and it would’ve been nice if we had adjusted, but we didn’t. They came out, hustled after the balls and that was it.”
The Lions claimed the final 10 of 12 sets in the first game to set the tone for the rest of the match. Robinson had six kills in the opener.
“She’s been our horse for most of the year,” Sierra Vista coach Camille McComas said of the junior Robinson. “We try to run a pretty balanced offense, but in times of trouble we seem to go to Brooke. And she’s really maturing as an athlete. From last year to this year, there’s been tons of improvement. I think in her senior year we’ll see even more.”
Bonanza tried to counter with their own No. 9, sophomore outside hitter Bree Hammel, but failed to ignite the necessary spark despite making a run by winning six of seven sets in the second game before falling, 27-25. Hammel finished with seven kills, 11 digs and two blocks.
Sophomore middle blocker Jessica Wilcox and senior Jessica Johnson added four kills and four blocks apiece for the Bengals.
Senior Johnie Pride had 10 kills for the Lions, while junior setter Morgan Malone tallied 29 assists. Still, McComas said there is work to be done before the Lions host a playoff match today against Faith Lutheran.
“We had some areas in which we struggled, and hopefully we can make those adjustments for the playoffs and I think we’ll see a lot more success,” she said.
Bonanza qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2001, a feat Wilkinson said his team will focus on as they head into today’s match at Palo Verde.
“I think we have a pretty good game plan going against (the Panthers),” he added. “They like to set the ball outside a lot and we’re going to really try and capitalize on that and make them beat us a different way. … I’m not too upset about (the seed). Palo has the more dominant hitters versus Centennial, but Centennial moves the ball around a little bit more. So we’re going to focus on what we’ve got. And I think that with Palo, we’re going to give them a good game.”