By Ryan Kuhn
Waiting until midway through the season to lose the first league game of the year might not be something to get too excited over, but Mission High School’s girls volleyball team views it as a huge accomplishment.
After falling to visiting Lincoln High School 25-20, 25-18, 25-16 in a Academic Athletic Association play Tuesday, Mission head coach Geraldine Poon said she has seen considerable improvement in her team during the past two seasons.
Just three years ago, Mission won a total of two matches and last season’s 10-win season was more than the previous five seasons combined.
“I am very happy where we are right now and I thought we played really well,” Poon said. “We have improved so much and we still have so much potential. We just need to play with composure.”
Lincoln outside hitters Michelle Cai and Amanda Loo were too much for the Mission defense to handle, as they finished with eight and 13 kills respectfully. The 21 kills combined for the pair were four more than Mission’s team total total.
After holding off the Bears (5-1 in AAA play) in the first game, 25-20, Lincoln (3-3 in AAA play) rallied back from a four-point deficit and scored nine straight points to regain the lead in the second.
Despite a late push by Mission, the Mustangs offense answered the call with three straight points on kills by Cai, Rhianna Menikheim and an ace by Loo to put them up by two games.
“I knew coming in that Mission was going to be a really good team.” said Lincoln head coach Vincent Tang. “We came in last year and they did really well, and I think they are a playoff-type team. We had to take this like it is a playoff-type match.”
Lincoln continued pushing the offense in the third game coming out to a commanding 14-4 lead but the Bears started to regain life, chipping away at the lead.
Three kills and a pair of blocks by middle blocker Tianna Mitchell brought the Mission crowd to life, but Lincoln came down with a block of their own to seal the final game and the match.
Mission senior outside hitter Nadia Mitchell, who finished with four kills and two blocks, knows her team has to play better in order to rise to the level of the AAA’s best.
“I feel like we can do a lot better,” Mitchell said. “Our team chemistry is good, because last year we didn’t know our teams’ weaknesses and now we do. We have to believe in [ourselves] more and practice harder.”