Login to Claremont COURIER

Ayala fights back but can’t overcome a Pack attack

The Claremont girls varsity volleyball team had the swagger of a championship team with their undefeated Palomares League record and high ranking in the Southern Section, but first they had to get by the visiting Ayala Bulldogs.

Wednesday night the Pack came out swinging making it look like it was going to be a quick match. They maintained a comfortable lead all the way to the 25-19 first set final score.

However, if they thought it was going to be a cakewalk, Ayala had other ideas. In a total reversal the Bulldogs scored first and played the Pack point for point until the set was tied at 11. Helped by some fine serving, Ayala went on a nine-point scoring streak leaving the Claremont team flat-footed and staring. After a time out the Pack redoubled their efforts to bring the Bulldog lead down to two at 19-21. However Ayala kept the momentum and scored the final four points to win 25-19.

In the words of Claremont’s new coach, Daniel Reighter, the girls, “really don’t like to lose,” and they went into the third set fired up.

With junior Kylie Robinson serving, Claremont scored seven unanswered points and it was the Bulldogs’ turn to struggle. With one great shot after another from the Pack, Ayala never made it out of the single digits as Claremont sewed up the third set 25-6.

The fourth and final set saw some of the best play of the night with the two teams exchanging the lead four times until the Pack led 12-11. With Robinson serving again, and a couple of key kills from senior Simone Bliss, the Pack went on a seven-point winning streak that sealed Ayala’s fate, leading to a 25-16 final and a 3-1 Claremont victory.

With a 3-0 league record, 10-5 overall, the Pack is ranked second behind Glendora in the Palomares League. Bliss led the attack with 10 kills followed by fellow outside hitter Emilee Rohrer with seven. Aside from her great serving, Robinson is also credited with 10 assists. The freshman and junior varsity squads also won on Wednesday and are 3-0 as well.

Coach Reighter takes over the top job after years of turnover for the volleyball program. He has been an assistant coach at Don Lugo, but had been looking for an opportunity to run his own program. He has been attending all of the freshman and JV practices and is looking to developing the roster on all levels.

“I think we underestimated them a bit in the second set and their serves were on point and that is what got us off guard. Our passing wasn’t there and that is our strongest suit, people can’t stop us when we are on our passing,” said coach Reighter

“The girls did not like losing, they want to keep a winning streak throughout the whole league. They made sure to come back and take it in the fourth,” he said.

Looking to the season ahead coach Reighter says that Bliss, Robinson and Rohrer will form the cornerstone of the Pack attack

“Simone Bliss is the most dominant player I have right now, she gets a lot of kills, a lot attempts and digs she is an all round strong player and she is my team captain.”

Rohrer is the other big outside hitter. She is a junior so will return for another year and has committed to play for USC on a full scholarship. Robinson at center will also be returning and has accepted an offer from the University of Oregon.

“I am trying to develop the program as much as I can I can see where it can be in three years,” said coach Reighter.

The girls played Diamond Bar on Thursday and the will face first place Glendora on Tuesday.

—Steven Felschundneff

steven@claremont-courier.com