Girls Volleyball: St. Ignatius drops WCAL opener to Presentation

St. Ignatius blockers Maddie Welsh (left) and Michellie McDonald-O'Brien (right) contest an attack by Presentation's Emily Sklar on Tuesday at St. Ignatius. (Photo by Devin Chen)

By Jeremy Balan

St. Ignatius’ girls volleyball team went an impressive 12-2 in its non-league schedule, but got its first dose of West Catholic Athletic League competition in a 25-16, 25-13, 23-25, 25-21 loss to visiting Presentation of San Jose on Tuesday.

St. Ignatius senior setter Christina Lee lines up a serve on Tuesday at St. Ignatius. (Photo by Devin Chen)

“I think all of the WCAL coaches feel it’s hard to get competitive preseason games in, because our league is so tough,” said second-year St. Ignatius coach Lisa Becerra. “It’s hard to prepare, especially playing a team as competitive as Presentation, but we know that’s what we have to face.”

The match appeared to be slipping away from the Wildcats (12-3, 0-1), when Presentation (18-2, 2-0) dominated the second game behind imposing play from its front line.

“They’ve been that way for the most of the year and that’s been a real key for us,” Presentation coach Mike Pitts said of his front line. “Unfortunately, we kind of lost it the last two games, where we didn’t put up much of a block.”

St. Ignatius only recorded five kills in the second game, while the Panthers controlled the play at the net.

“We had a gameplan and had an idea of what we wanted to do, but we got shut down at the net,” Becerra said. “They’re very dominant in the front row.”

But the Wildcats responded after the lopsided second game with a 25-23 win in the third game, and they held three separate leads in the deciding fourth, before Presentation pulled away.

“We never really got into a rhythm, but that was just pure heart,” Becerra said. “I hope what they take from this game is, even when you’re not playing your best, you can take a lot from just passion and wanting to win.”

The Presentation attack was balanced, with four players tallying eight kills or more, led by a team-high 13 kills from junior outside hitter Emily Sklar.

St. Ignatius countered with a match-high 14 kills from junior outside hitter Claire Healy. No other St. Ignatius player notched more than seven kills.

“Claire is a great player,” Becerra said. “She has a big arm swing, makes huge plays for us and also has that emotion on her face.”

St. Ignatius continues with WCAL play on Thursday when it hosts Valley Christian.

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