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Honkers down Bears in SVL tilt
Her name is poetic, but the Pierce High volleyball team could have done without a few verses of Willows junior Baneli Lomeli on Thursday.
With the Lady Honkers up two sets to one and Pierce leading 13-12 in Game 4, Lomeli took the ball in hand and served for the next nine points — six of which came via aces — and the Honkers held on for a 25-10, 21-25, 25-15, 25-19 win in Arbuckle.
"It was awesome," said Lomeli of her impressive service run, explaining that serving is as mental as it is physical. "You just have to think to get it in and not miss — think you're getting in every time."
Willows coach Carol Martin was not surprised by Lomeli's strength of serve. "She's got a bomb serve and she's smart. She was hitting angle-angle and then went lines. She's got a good head on her shoulders."
Willows and Pierce were 1-2 in the Sacramento Valley League entering play, but the Honkers' heavy hitters proved too much for the Bears to contend with.
The visitors swung for 44 kills, with middle hitters Ally Brunner throwing down 15 and Morgan Hughes, 10, respectively.
Pierce coach Kim Travis said it wasn't necessarily how hard the Honkers were hitting, but where they were placing the shots.
"(Willows) is always tough. They have strong hitters and hit and block, and their hitters try to hit around the block as opposed to hitting through it."
Willows never trailed in the opener and appeared to be firing on all cylinders, but that changed for the second set.
The Bears got three kills from Mariah Diaz, one by Karlie Talbot and aces from Carissa Cabral, Diaz and Carissa Cabral en route to their win in the second set.
"Diaz is very strong, she's a dominant person on the team," Travis said. "She's a team leader and tries to control what happens at the net."
Martin said that Willows didn't play as crisp in Game 2, explaining, "We didn't do anything wrong in the first game. We made mistakes in the second game that we didn't make in the first."
She also credited a very boisterous Bears cheering section with making a difference.
"Pierce is always a dogfight, it's loud and rowdy here so it's always fired up."
The Honkers cleaned up their Game 2 mistakes to take the next two and leave Arbuckle with an important league win.
"Our hitters made a big difference. Our serving wasn't very good, but we can pull through," said Lomeli.
Despite the loss, Travis said she's happy with the direction she sees the Lady Bears moving.
"We had a rough start to the season, but we've found a rotation that works and we're sticking with it."
Lomeli finished with seven aces, Ally Brunner jump-served her way to five and Lexy Weber added three.
Willows (19-3, 6-0 SVL) hosts Live Oak on Tuesday.
Pierce (11-12, 3-2 SVL) battled East Nic at home Tuesday, and welcomes Durham Thursday.
CONTACT Craig Purcell at 824-1036 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Like us on Facebook at TCN Sports; follow us on Twitter @TCNvarsity