Stangs playoff bid stifled

Volleyball finishes 11-5 in conference


Cathie Lawrence

LMC’s Caitlin Sadler spikes the ball over two Napa defenders during Friday night’s loss. The Mustangs finished the season fourth in conference play, missing the postseason.

Los Medanos College Volleyball suffered a defeat to Napa Valley College last Friday, ending their playoff ambitions during Sophomore Night.
LMC had to beat Napa — unless Napa lost to lowly Laney — and likely first-place Yuba to force a playoff against second-place Napa, but the Storm granted no shelter to the Mustangs, winning three games to one.
LMC had a rocky start to the first game, dropping the first four points, but stayed within arm’s reach of Napa for most of the game.
The dynamic offense and serving that tore apart Mendocino on Tuesday, made infrequent appearances, like in one run of play where two powerful LMC spikes were miraculously saved by Napa digs before freshman Caitlin Sadler was set up for a kill. The game ended 20-25.
The Mustangs looked much more composed in the second game, storming out to a 19-9 lead, thanks in part to a trio of aces from freshman Calissa Leming.
However, a tendency for the Mustangs to take their foot off the gas late in games, not a problem against lesser opponents, proved to be fatal against this formidable Napa team.
By the time LMC reached 24 points, they had given up 11, making it 24-20. Napa then went on a four-point run to tie the game at 24.
LMC scored the next point, but the rules require a two-point cushion for a win. Napa scored the next three points to win 25-27.
The third game again started off with some turbulence, but the Mustangs managed to settle in and won the game 25-19 after a Napa dig presented itself to Sadler.
The fourth game was disastrous for the Mustangs.
The Storm tied the game at 5-5 before taking the lead and never even considered giving it back.
The Mustangs looked uncharacteristically sloppy and disorganized, causing coach Lou Panzella to look alternately incensed and despondent, and sometimes a mix of both.
“It got ugly for us fast,” said Panzella.
Napa players Stacie Gatison and Taylor Castro, both powerhouses, exerted complete control over the game, leading the Storm on a 15-3 run to finish the game 25-10.
Panzella expressed regret in having dropped the second game.
“We let a good sized lead get away from us,” he said. “Losing [the game] was difficult for us. When you play good teams and have a chance to put them away, you gotta put them away.”
Panzella acknowledged some of the troubles the Mustangs have had closing games out, and that while his young team (all but two players are freshmen) lacks big game experience, the buck stops with him.
“It’s a coaching problem, the fault lies at my door. It has been a problem and it’s something we’ll work on in the offseason.”
While this loss essentially marks the end of the Mustangs’ season, Panzella was optimistic about next season.
He said he hopes most of his young team returns to play in 2016 and believes the five or six high school recruits coming in will contribute to the continued success of the team.
The Mustangs also dropped their last game of the season against Yuba three sets to none. LMC finished the season with a 13-11 overall record but was 11-5 in conference play, fourth place in the Bay Valley.