Stangs stomp Storm

Los+Medanos+College%27s+Caitlin+Sadler+hits+ball+towards+Napa%27s+side+as+their+defender+tries+to+stop+it.

Cathie Lawrence

Los Medanos College’s Caitlin Sadler hits ball towards Napa’s side as their defender tries to stop it.

Tyler Mortimore, tmortimore@lmcexperience.com

The Los Medanos College volleyball team clinched the Bay Valley Conference title in a thrilling match against Napa Valley College Monday night, winning 3-0.
The win puts LMC back in the playoffs after narrowly missing out on postseason play last year. After losing to Napa 3-2 early in the season, the Mustangs came to play, according to head coach Lou Panzella.
“Our girls knew we were playing for first. When we lost at Napa, I felt like we played poorly. This time, we played clean, our ball control was good,” said Panzella. “The only surprise to me was that it was a three set match.”
The night began with Panzella and the Mustangs coaching staff showcasing both teams’ outgoing sophomores, including LMC players Caitlin Sadler, Janessa Sei, Savannah O’Neal and Calissa Leming.
The Mustangs drew first blood in the first set. The game seesawed as the lead was passed back and forth until LMC tied the game at 14 and scurried ahead on the strength of several serves in a row.
“We served great. Over three sets, we only made six service errors compared to 10 aces,” said Panzella.
With the score at 24-20, freshman Vei Finau finessed a ball into open space to win the first set.
LMC opened the scoring again in the second set when Ayanna Burnett blocked a Napa hit at the net. The Mustangs raced out to a 5-1 lead with an ace from Erica Wilder and a devastating kill from Finau, who seemed to levitate while she lining up a thunderous blow. LMC went up 7-1 with a gentle touch from Sadler that sent Storm players somersaulting and Napa coaches calling for a timeout.
LMC kept Napa at arm’s length the rest of the set, securing the game point when Leming lobbed a laser-guided ball deep into Napa’s corner, making it 25-13.
Napa looked downtrodden as they made their way back onto the court for what would be the final set, but they shed the mood after an opening ace. This set would turn out to be the most competitive, with stunning feats of athleticism and poise by both teams. LMC was able to jump out to a four point lead on the back of three aces, but a Napa timeout disrupted their rhythm and the Storm tied it at 10 after an impressive volley with a number of blocks on either side.
LMC went on another scoring run to make it 17-12 before another Napa timeout. Sam Rhodes resumed play with a fizzing serve that a Napa player sent arcing back toward the exit.
Another sublime play by Finau put LMC just five points away from the title at 20-14, but Napa wasn’t about to roll over quite yet.
“They had just won at Solano and again at Mendocino after going down two sets, so we knew they could get behind and win,” said Panzella. “We really didn’t want to go to a fourth set.”
After making it 23-19, Napa scored three straight to make it a one point set, but LMC settled down and scored two straight to finish the set and the match.
“There’s going to be ebbs and flows. Our hitters played really smart,” said Panzella. “We managed to make plays when we had to.”
The Mustangs followed up their dominating performance with back-to-back road victories over Solano and Yuba to extend their win streak to eight games.
Panzella hopes LMC can secure a home game in the first round, on Nov. 19. The Mustangs are undefeated in the Los Medanos Gym this season. For more information on LMC volleyball visit http://www.losmedanos.edu/volleyball/