HANFORD — There was one word that could be used to sum up Sierra Pacific’s loss on Thursday — communication.
Sierra Pacific coach Vonnie Contreras said it first, freshman Amie Walker reiterated it twice and senior captain Hailey Leslie reinforced it postgame.
“Just a breakdown in communication and once there’s no communication it’s hard to get anything going,” Contreras said.
That lack of communication led to balls in the net, bumping players and a snowball of frustration. Sierra Pacific eventually gave way to a 3-1 (25-12, 15-25, 22-25, 13-25) home loss to Lindsay High on Thursday.
“As a team we lost communication and that’s a really big, important thing — that’s volleyball,” Leslie said. “The loss of communication and then just not putting the ball down was something that we struggled with today.”
The Golden Bears (7-11, 2-3 ESL) came out red hot in the first set, easily dispatching Lindsay High 25-12, but their momentum was temporary and so was there lead.
“I think we got a little comfortable, so we thought we had it and then it just fell apart,” Leslie said. “Then when we get mad it reflects on each other and then communication just falls apart.”
Everything Sierra Pacific did right in the first set — ball handling, court movement and communication (of course) — they did wrong in the second set.
Lindsay (8-6, 4-2 ESL) started the second set with a 3-0 run and that’s about as close as Sierra Pacific would come the rest of that set. They did make it 4-2, but the Cardinals went on a 5-1 run to take a 9-3 lead.
Contreras called a timeout after Lindsay’s eighth point to try and refocus her girls, but to no avail. Lindsay kept their foot on the gas and went on a 5-0 (14-5) and 6-0 (19-9) run to balloon their lead and never looked back.
“We played this team before, we went to five [sets],” Contreras said. “What we learned was they make minimal errors and they make us make the errors and tonight we made those errors.”
The absolute backbreaker was the tight, third set. Sierra Pacific and Lindsay were tied 6-6 when the Golden Bears went on a 4-0 run. Lindsay called a timeout and answered back with its own 4-0 run to tie the set.
Sierra Pacific then called a timeout at 11-all and took a 16-13 lead. Lindsay would not go away and battled back to tie it again. Tied 16-16, the match went back and forth until the Cardinals took a two-point lead (23-21).
What preceded the 23rd point was an extended rally that felt like it lasted an hour. At least 30 different touches were put on the ball and when the ball finally hit the court, Sierra Pacific was on the wrong side of the point.
Their point was gone and so was any momentum they had left. After they lost in that crucial third set and trailed 2-1, the match was pretty much over.
Contreras tried to get her team to stay positive and look toward the next ball saying, “new ball, new opportunity.” But it didn’t work.
Lindsay quickly made it 7-3, then 10-5, 14-7 and finally 24-10 in the fourth and deciding set before Sierra Pacific found a small spurt for the final score.
The loss drops the Golden Bears to fourth in the East Sequoia League standings as they needed a win to tie Lindsay for third. Things won’t get any easier next Monday when they face first place Strathmore (11-10, 4-1 ESL) at 6:30 p.m.