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Volleyball team meets the challenge When the going gets tough

 

Last updated 11/17/2006 at Noon



Fallbrook High School’s girls volleyball team reached the CIF Division I semifinals before a four-game loss November 14 to La Costa Canyon.

The Warriors had swept Calexico and Vista in the first two rounds of the playoffs to earn the match at top-seeded La Costa Canyon.

“You always want to walk out on the winning side, but I was extremely proud of the girls. They played great,” Fallbrook coach Galen Tomlinson said after the loss to La Costa Canyon. “To stay on task and play as well as they did, I was really proud of them.”

The Warriors required a court injunction to reach the playoffs. Fallbrook forfeited seven games due to a decision that Pamela Cheu, who transferred from a Mexican school to Fallbrook High School, was ineligible. Although Cheu sat out the 2005 season, the CIF does not allow students to play interscholastic sports after eight high school semesters. Cheu attended a school in Mexico for seventh-year through ninth-year students and then attended a high school in Mexico, and while Fallbrook High School gave her credit for her tenth-year courses in Mexico but not for her ninth-year classes the CIF’s opinion was that her ninth year in the Mexican school constituted the equivalent of ninth grade.

A CIF rule bans teams with more than a specified number of forfeits - five in the case of volleyball - from post-season competition. A school can appeal to the CIF commissioner to regain eligibility for the playoffs, but CIF commissioner Dennis Ackerman denied Fallbrook’s appeal on October 20. Because the eligibility violation wasn’t clearly defined and because the high school never received the case for the forfeits in writing, senior Carli Lloyd filed for a court injunction against the decision not to allow the Warriors to participate in the CIF playoffs. The injunction was granted November 2, two days before the November 4 playoff seeding and selection meeting. Fallbrook was given the fourth seed, providing the Warriors with home matches in the first two rounds if they won their opening-round match.

The CIF had the right to appeal the injunction if it wished, and the date of the first-round match between Calexico and Fallbrook was moved from November 7, the date of all other first-round matches, to November 8. The Bulldogs’ trip to Fallbrook saw the Warriors advance with 25-5, 25-5, and 25-16 victories.

“What I liked was the fact that the girls stayed on task the whole night,” Tomlinson said. “They played efficient the entire night.”

The later date meant that Fallbrook also played the following night, when the Warriors hosted Vista. The playoff match was the fourth of the season between the Warriors and the Panthers. Vista had defeated Fallbrook in a tournament match while the Warriors won both league matches against the Panthers.

“We knew what to expect from each other,” Tomlinson said of the match against Vista.

Neither Vista’s familiarity with the Warriors nor the matches on consecutive nights kept Fallbrook from a three-game win by 25-14, 25-21, and 25-18 margins. “I knew we were capable as long as the girls stayed mentally on task and didn’t start letting one or two wins go to their head,” Tomlinson said of the sweep. “We wanted it bad enough, and they stayed focused until the last point was had.”

That set up the quarterfinal match against La Costa Canyon, who had defeated the Warriors in Fallbrook’s second match of the season. The Mavericks took a 25-13 win in the first game and a 25-19 victory in Game Two. Fallbrook avoided a sweep with a 28-26 victory in the third game before the Mavericks sealed the match with another 25-19 triumph.

“The entire match was closer than the scores indicated. It was well-played, evenly played,” Tomlinson said. “A couple of breaks went their way and they wound up on the winning side, but it was well contested.”

La Costa Canyon had been given the top seed in the Division I playoffs, and the Mavericks are also ranked among the top ten high school teams in the nation. “It’s definitely evidence that the girls can compete at that level, and they proved it,” Tomlinson said of taking one game from the Mavericks and keeping other games close.

The Warriors led the fourth game by five points early in the game, and the Mavericks did not take the lead until midway through that game.

The results of the three playoff matches gave Fallbrook a final 15-18 regular-season record including the seven forfeits, or a 22-11 record on the court. None of those forfeits were in Avocado League competition, where the Warriors finished 8-2 and placed second to Carlsbad.

 

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